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  • Sarah Raad

Tone

Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What have you done?’” (Genesis 8:13).“…but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’” (Luke 22:48).

The Betrayal of Christ (Guercino)

When I started in my first full-time job after I graduated from university many many years ago, during my induction the Human Resource manager explained that as I would be communicating with clients via email, I should pay careful attention to my tone because it can be very difficult to correctly interpret tone from written communications when facial expressions and sound are not included in the communication.


And over the last few days as I think back to about the time when I started that job twenty years ago, I have been reflecting very much on tone and the ways that we can interpret tone from written language…


Before my conversion – which occurred through Grace and no merit of my own – as I read certain passages of the Bible, I imagined God’s tone as one of anger…


In the passage that recounts the meeting of Adam and Eve with God after their Original Sin, I used to imagine such anger and fury that surely the first man and first woman could have barely survived such an exchange were it not for the Will of God…


“Then the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking in the garden. It was during the coolest time of the day. They hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called out to the man. ‘Where are you?’ He asked. ‘I heard you in the garden,’ the man answered. ‘I was afraid, because I was naked. So I hid.’ The Lord God said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten fruit from the tree I commanded you not to eat from?’ The man said, ‘It’s the fault of the woman you put here with me. She gave me some fruit from the tree. And I ate it.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What have you done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me. That’s why I ate the fruit.’” (Genesis 3:8-13).

In those days – before my conversion – I imagined a terrible terrible anger in God. But that was then – and now things are quite different. Now I imagine another tone altogether... Now, I imagine such sorrow as the world has never known.

Now, I can hear my Beloved say, “What have you done?” to the woman and I can hear all the tears that He would weep for love of us – for love of me – for all eternity… I can hear His sadness and I can feel His anguish at the knowledge of the suffering of all the souls – beloved of His Heart. I can hear the heartbreak of His tone as He saw all the souls who would be cast into Hell as a consequence of such sin.


And I can feel His grief at seeing the small suffering in my own life that is a consequence of sin, and I can hear in His tearful tone the gentle caress of a Father who loves me infinitely and wishes only to save me pain – even at the expense of His only begotten beloved Infinitely Perfect Son…


And that is now the tone of my Lord and God that I imagine was used in the Garden when He asked the question of the woman…


And just as I now imagine that tone differently in that Garden, so too do I imagine Christ’s tone in the Garden of Gethsemane differently…


“…but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’” (Luke 22:48).


And again, instead of the anger that I used to imagine in God’s tone of voice in that Garden, instead I hear His infinite sorrow at the loss of the beloved soul of Judas…


And as I hear perfect loving sadness in God’s tone to Judas, I hear Him speak to me too… For Judas betrayed my Beloved ONCE – and I betray Him over and over and over again. And I do not even do it for a few pieces of silver. I do it for pleasure, for convenience, to appear cool to my friends, or simply out of utter laziness and disrespect.


And now – today – I can hear my Beloved’s tone as He speaks to me, and I can hear the infinite sadness in His voice as He asks, “What have you done?”


And my heart breaks with sorrow for having offended so infinitely gentle and loving a Thing as God…


And all I can do is kneel before Him – weeping my tears – and begging His pardon… Because He knows what I have done, and He knows why, and still He asks me THAT question, using THAT tone…


And how can I ever repay Him for that? How can I ever repay Him for His love – even knowing all I have done and why?


How can I?


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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