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  • Sarah Raad

Betrayal

GOODNESS forgives betrayal… Every. Single. Time…

The Betrayal of Christ (Philip James de Loutherbourg)

The other day, I was reading the Gospel of Saint Luke (Luke 6:12-19) which recounts Christ’s calling of the apostles.


“He went out to the mountain to pray; and all night He continued in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom He named apostles; Simon, whom He named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.” (Luke 6:12-19).


I have been reflecting on this passage of the Gospel ever since I read it. For there it is – written in black and white – “Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor…”.


Now, I am no Biblical scholar and I do not read Latin – the original language of the text – so when I meditate on a passage of the Gospel, I usually just take the words at their face value – and the Holy Spirit does the rest for me… But as I meditated upon these words the other day, what struck me was the words used to describe Judas.


Judas is described as BECOMING a traitor.


We are not told that Judas WAS the traitor, we are told that he BECAME one. And for some reason, I cannot remove this distinction from my mind because, all this time, I have been imagining Judas as the rotten apple, so to speak. Previously when I thought of Judas I thought of him as the apostle who was not really a true disciple of Christ. He was the apostle who did not really listen to Christ, and did not really follow Him around. Previously when I thought of Judas, I thought of him as the apostle who was NOT all the way in when Christ called him… But now – after reading those words – I am really not so sure…


After all, Judas was definitely treated as a trusted apostle. He was trusted to the point that he was given the responsibility of being the treasurer of the group and we know this because it was Judas who carried the money purse and Judas who paid for things. “‘Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages.’ He (Judas) did not say this because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12:4-6).


And this was not a coincidence. For Christ is not an idiot! And by this very action of trusting the man who would become the TRAITOR we are told something marvellous about both Christ and Judas…


You see, Christ – God Himself – gives everyone a chance. It does not matter if I failed once. It does not matter if I fail many times. It does not matter if I am going to fail over and over again. God lets me have another go and He gives me another chance… And even though He KNOWS how this is going to turn out – even before I try – still He continues to LET me try. And all of this, even though I am no better than Judas – and possibly much worse!


Because – before Judas failed – he followed Christ, and he tried…


After all, I am sure that his failure was not a sudden experience – just as my failure is not sudden. For just as it takes great sinners time to grow in virtue, so too does it take the virtuous time to be corrupted to vice. Generally, the descent into Hell is long and slow, for it is slowly that the soul takes on one small vice at a time…

I wonder if perhaps for Judas it began with the money? After all, he was responsible for it and was around it all the time. Saint John even claims, “…as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12:4-6).

Perhaps when he bought the things that the apostles needed, he kept the best item for his own personal use. Maybe it started with Judas eating the best apply before he offered the fruit to his friends? Perhaps – even worse – he began by keeping a few coins aside each day to use for his own purposes… After all – he might have justified to himself – the apostles were often hungry and this could get him out of a scrape. They were very poor and relied on the generosity of others for their food, perhaps Judas justified this to himself as a necessary thing so that he would not starve? Maybe he called it self-care or survival or practical? I wonder if he even realised that what he was doing was wrong? Did he justify it to himself? Did he excuse it?


I know that I do when I am wrong…


And now I wonder what was in his mind the night he failed for the final time – the night he betrayed his Lord. On THAT day – when he failed for the very last time – did he think, I shall do this thing and Christ will save Himself, because He can do anything – I have SEEN Him do amazing things with my own eyes... Perhaps Judas thought to himself… I have watched this man raise people from the dead. I have seen all these miracles with my own eyes. I will hand Him over and then go back and toss Him some money after He had freed Himself, because a Man who can raise people from the dead and turn water into wine can surely set Himself free…


Perhaps he thought, how hard could it possibly be for the Son of Man to escape the High Priests? It will be alright in the end…

After all, all those little sins add up. And when we are accustomed to little sins, we can soon become desensitised to the big ones…

And I know this because later Judas tried to return those silver pieces. Later – after he had made his mistake – he tried of his own power to take it back … “‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’ ‘What is that to us?’ they (the Chief Priests and Elders) replied. ‘That's your responsibility.’ So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:3-5).


And the real problem was, that when Judas threw away that worthless money, he forgot to pick up his God – he forgot to turn back to the one he had betrayed… Because his betrayal was so terrible that he thought that it was GREATER than God.


Poor poor Judas. How little he knew the GOD he walked beside and ate with and lived with for three years!


For he had failed before – with so many things... The One who could raise people from the dead and perform all kinds of miracles was surely able to have figured that out... And yet – despite it all, despite every single bit of betrayal, God loved Judas… And Christ gave him a chance to try again, because my Beloved always give us a chance to try again – over and over and over again.


And so it is that I weep today, filled with pity for poor Judas – who was surely a better soul than me – who failed to see the GOODNESS of God…


And how I pray that God will save me from such a fate… For the one TRUE thing that I know for SURE is that God is GOOD.


It is the one thing that I really know…


And GOODNESS forgives betrayal… Every. Single. Time…


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

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