|Judith beheads Holofernes|
Judith was both difficult and a joy to read. For my non-catholic-y readers, you can find the Book of Judith here with the introduction that I'm reading in The Catholic Study Bible. In the Catholic bible, Judith is found after Tobit, before Esther. So, as many of the Old Testament books begin, Judith opens with a narrative of war and battles in regions that are a bit fuzzy in my visual of an ancient map. These parts of the bible that describe war, battles, and war strategies do not hold my attention unless there is a personal biographical narrative embedded within it. Luckily, the book of Judith quickly got to the main storyline of, well, Judith!
The storyline is typically well known. The Israelites are under attack and may be forced to surrender. Judith convinces the elders to allow her to leave the gates of the city in order to do God's will and save God's people. She ends up in the enemies tent, with a drunk commander. She takes his sword, beheads him, and takes his head back in a sack to the village elders and God's people are saved.
When I read this last night, this one passage really stuck out to me:
Jdt 8:8: "No one had a bad word to say about her, for she was a very God fearing woman."
I know that many times I say things that I shouldn't say at work or with friends, and I often wonder if people speak ill of me when I am not present. I'm glad I read this passage so I can take it to prayer for me to know when to shut my mouth so I can evolve into the character of a God fearing woman.
Today I was driving around trying to get some errands done. When I drive, I contemplate things and life. I started thinking about Judith... Oh, God had quite the field day with my heart and mind this morning!
Often, I avoid God's tug on my heart. I don't know if a lot of people know this or not, but when I'm at Mass or before the Blessed Sacrament, I feel his presence very strongly in a physical way. It moves me. It tugs at me. It calls to me. But, I'm often fearful of where it will take me. In the story of Judith, the Elders were afraid of what would happen to the people in the city, and therefore gave God an ultimatum to receive water and food or they would surrender. Judith was not fearful. She prayed. She heard the voice of God and acted. God, in turn, saved his people by her hand.
How often do I hear the voice of God and refuse to act? How often am I fearful and ignore the call, tug and voice? How much good could I be doing to help others if I would have acted?
Judith, pray for us! Help us to be trusting and fearless. Help me act when the Holy Spirit moves me. Jesus, I trust in You!