Searching for Toilet Paper with Jesus: Alex Smith ‘20

May 11, 2020

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” (Matthew 26.14-15)

Perhaps Judas enjoyed betraying people… But I find it more likely that Judas simply had some needs. After all, he had been following around this vagabond preacher for years, this preacher who didn’t even have a place to rest his head. Judas probably just wanted to enjoy a hot meal or rest in a down comforter. I’m sure that there was much more going on with Judas, but I can’t deny that following Jesus was not an easy life. Those 30 silver coins—that was a significant chunk of change—offered him the opportunity to satisfy his basic desires.

In this time, our most basic desires are even more apparent. We are in need of toilet paper—and the store shelves are empty. We are in need of hugs—and government orders require a minimum of six feet between all people. In our desperation, it can be easy to forget everything else. When some of life’s basic necessities—food, shelter, love—are made precarious, it can be hard to focus on anything else.

But, I worry that if we can only focus on our needs, then we risk becoming—in small ways—like Judas. After all, Judas was a disciple, one of Jesus’ most trusted followers. Jesus warns that the cares and anxieties of the world can easily become thorns that choke us and keep us from drinking that living water, the only thing that can satisfy our every desire. I don’t mean to suggest that the only solution is to ignore the necessities of life, detach ourselves from this world, and contemplate the divine mysteries. No, our needs are real and present. Perhaps it is not that we must think of Jesus instead of searching for toilet paper. Rather, it is that we must invite Jesus into our searching for toilet paper. If we invite Jesus into the basic parts of our lives, to be with us as we prune back the anxious thorns of this world, I suspect that we will find him already there. Perhaps we will find Jesus already sitting on the toilet paper shelf.