Wednesday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 26:47-50; Mark 14:43-45; Luke 22:47-48; John 18:2-9

Betrayal

Ask different Christians what the chief or worst sin is and you’ll get that many different answers.  Some will say pride as it was the primal sin of our first parents.  Others will say idolatry as that is the breaking of the first commandment.  Many will say unbelief as it is faith that saves.  Dante placed Judas Iscariot in the lowest place in his Inferno thinking treason the most abhorrent sin.  It is really a moot question; after all, “Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it” (James 2:10).  Betrayal (and in this case intentional) of a friend or spouse is the ultimate infidelity.  It is playing nice while one plans all along to stab in the back.  It is to scheme when one is living close beside you as a trusted friend.  It is to make a vow of “keeping only unto him or her” and then keeping unto another in one’s mind, soul, or bed.  It destroys marriages, families, friendships, and even societies and whole countries.  While I cannot call betrayal the worst sin, it is certainly a hurtful and destructive one.

And yet, it’s one we’ve all committed.  We’ve all let others down when we should have lifted them up.  We’ve even schemed against those we secretly hated.  I wrote a devotion earlier about Judas (Tuesday, 27th Week) noting how Hollywood movies always seem to paint Judas in a sympathetic light.  I said then and say now that I believe this is because we see ourselves in him.  It is so easy to become angry, disappointed, quit, lash out, or plan revenge.  None of this is the way of our Lord who was patient, kind, and forbearing.  I’m not saying that there are not times when we may need to remove ourselves from company that might corrupt our morals or entice us to evil (Proverbs 1:10-19; 1 Corinthians 15:33).  But may we all be careful with our relationships for even the grumpiest may look upon you as a trusted friend.

The scene in John’s Gospel is truly awesome.  Here come these men with clubs and swords and torches ready to do battle against this unarmed prophet.  But it is Jesus who takes command of the situation, for the Scriptures must be fulfilled and the Son of God must be glorified.  “Whom do you seek,” he asks.  “Jesus of Nazareth,” they reply.  “I am he,” answers Jesus, and with those words these men draw back and fall to the ground.  These men, whether they meant to or not, proclaimed Jesus’ deity, for falling down is what people did in the Bible when in the presence of God.  Jesus had to say it again before these men recovered enough to bind him.  Then like cowards, they abused him.  Surely, Judas felt the horror of what he had done at that moment. I too have felt horror at myself.  That’s why the cross.

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