Thursday, October 4, 2012

Anatomy of Betrayal

First, none of us has been betrayed the way Jesus was betrayed by Judas.  The slights we endure from friends, family, enemies and others can never quite measure up to that betrayal unto torture and death.

But Jesus suffers greater pains than we suffer so that He can redeem our suffering and our pain.

And what strikes me about Jesus and Judas is the kiss that betrays, and Our Lord's response to that kiss, "Friend, wherefore art thou come?"

Was Jesus being ironic here?  Judas is anything but a friend.  Why would Jesus call him that?  Was he being sarcastic, a smart-alec?  "Friend, wherefore art thou come with a gang of hoodlums behind you who will arrest and assault the man you point out to them with a false kiss?"

Well, to understand the pain of this moment, we must realize that this is not only an example of political opportunism and money-grubbing on the part of Judas, it is indeed something worse - the betrayal of one friend by another friend.  Judas was a close friend, an intimate of Jesus.  Of course, we can look back on the hints we're given about Judas all along - his greediness, his disdain for others - and we can say, "Well, Judas was false from the beginning.  He was never a true disciple, a true friend."

But if we begin judging the commitment of the apostles to Our Lord, we can't get very far.  Peter rebukes Him and denies Him.  Thomas doubts Him and Nathaniel sneers when he first hears tell of Him.  And yet they all followed Him, they were all - to some extent - His "friends".  In the moment of testing, they all failed in various ways - but they were all at least Our Lord's "intimates".

And in this day and age when we denegrate friendship, when we can't imagine "intimacy" without sex, when Shakespeare can't speak of the love of male friends without our assuming he means sodomy and mutual abuse, we forget what love of friends can be, we forget what intimacy really is. 

It can be a very high form of love.  Intimacy can exist without sex because it's intimacy that informs the marital act and gives it meaning.  Intimacy can exist between friends and not just lovers, for intimacy precedes and informs sexual activity, not vice-versa.  For intimacy is a form of love.

This is why intimate friends share everything.  They don't hold back.  They eat together, laugh together, see things the same way, open their hearts to one another. 

But life has a way of testing friendships and of putting even our best of intentions under a fire of proof, a crucible of purification. 

And when we find that our love fails in the hour of testing, in the Trial, we are crushed - either because we fail our friends, or our friends fail us.

Friends betray friends; man betrays God. 

It's an old old story; and it hurts God even more than it hurts us.


Anonymous said...

I agree with this 100%, specially the definition of love. I also believe that the trails that get in the way within a friendship and are won by our perseverance and love for God and for those friends, should not be considered a burdensome nuisance or reason to fall into fears and feelings of discouragement but rather should, by our strong wills sustained by God, make those relationships both divine and human stronger; when won over and when we offer that up to God.

Speaking from personal experience, looking back it gained for me a tougher second skin and made me a stronger person as well as having a more clear understanding of myself with people and friends.

If only Judas won over his temptation, saw his weak nature and character clearly from the start and didn't take his friendship with Christ for granted...probably "for granted" is too small a statement to describe his betrayal. But i guess it only shows that you can't befriend Truth and lies together.

God bless.


Anonymous said...

Flannery O'Connor wrote the short story A Good Man is Hard to Find with betrayal in mind,something tells me that if she had written that today and not in 1953 it would have an even more gruesome ending.

Although betrayal has always exsisted, since the shift of cultural focus from group (The Golden Generation) to the individual and their gratification (Generation X,Y&Z)this issue will continue to become more prevalent.

One of the worst aspects of betrayal is, of course, the realization of the fragile nature of relationships and love.

After surviving many betrayals so far in my life, I've realized there are generally signs that a betrayal will occur whether that is due to smaller betrayals that are more easily forgiven or a general sense of unrest.

Because betrayal is becoming more prominent, you could either look at realtionships and become extremely guarded or open yourself to a deeper love than ever before because it could end at any moment.


Kevin O'Brien said...

In that Flannery O'Connor story, a nihilist steals a girl's prosthetic leg, in the most disturbing scene of seduction ever put on paper.

I agree with you completely, Beatrice!

Anonymous said...

Actually the nihilist is from one of Flannery's other short stories Good Country People, within the same collection as A Good Man is Hard to Find. The ending of this story is even more gruesome as an entire family meet their demise after their good faith is betrayed by The Misfit.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Jesus needed Judas to betray him so that we might learn from the experience