Tuesday of Holy Week
Isaiah 49:1-6 and John 13:21-33, 36-38
While at the table with his disciples, Jesus announces His traitor. (…one of you will betray me … it is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it” (John: 13:21, 26). This way of announcing the betrayal renders even clearer the contrast. For the Jews, the communion around the table, to dip the hand together in the same dish, was the maximum expression of intimacy and trust. For John suggests that in spite of the betrayal made by someone who was a friend, the love of Jesus is greater than the betrayal! In order to assume the fullness of human life and suffering, Jesus had to assume betrayal as well. He had to become the victim of the ultimate act of betrayal, one which would lead to His terrible suffering and humiliating death. This is the only way His voluntary self-emptying (Philippians 2:7) could be complete, by enduring the pain and anguish not only of physical torment, but of betrayal by one of His own disciples, one He called “friend”. This resonates with one of the Cicero’s remarks “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within.” What makes each case of betrayal so painful is that someone who knows your heart, who knows your longings and character turns against you. Betrayal is, in fact, a symbol for the dishonorable act we can perform in relation to another person. (This is why adultery has always been seen as the worst of sins in a marriage: it betrays trust and therefore undermines the relationship as nothing else can).
Sometimes we are like Jesus, we are betrayed – in which case we need to extend forgiveness and love; sometimes we are like Judas we are guilty of betraying someone, but instead of despair, we need to seek reconciliation and forgiveness. It is easy to spiritualize the situation “God was calling me” or to analyze it detachedly “this person – the traitor- is troubled”. What helps, is to acknowledge honestly “I have been betrayed” or “I have betrayed.” Healing begins with the bearing of the plain truth in God’s presence. When this happens, let us look up to Jesus who out of unconditional love for us, He had to experience the fullness of human tragedy, including betrayal and abandonment on the part of those “closest to Him”. To become truly “what we are” required that Jesus experience not only physical pain and suffering, but the agony of treachery as well. By facing the pains and distress of betrayal, we are walking where great people have walked before. They are remembered as great because they did not allow the betrayal to break them. Instead they learned how to turn their pain into greater usefulness for the Lord. We all have a choice to amend our lives, and submit to Jesus during this Lenten season in order to walk in His light of truth and love. During this Holy week, may God in His rich mercy and forgiveness grant us the grace to follow His way of the cross so that we may eternally share in the joys of His resurrection.
Sister Maria Elizabeth Nakku (IHMR), Graduate Student, CELC