This is from the Holy Wednesday message delivered April 1, 2015 during the weekly chapel service in the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill. The Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of the General Board of Church & Society, based her message on Matthew 26:14-30.
For the original article go to http://umc-gbcs.org/faith-in-action/betrayal
A Holy Week reflection on Matthew 2:14-16
These are deep betrayals: one by Judas, the other by Peter. Jesus had called both of them into the company of disciples/sojourners: the family. He invited the others as well. All of them were flawed human beings. None of them was particularly outstanding. They were greedy, competitive, selfish, naïve and self-absorbed.
Judas’ and Peter’s betrayals are significant: one handing Jesus to the High Priest; the other denying him; both understanding the political dangers; most likely knowing, if not fully understanding, the spiritual significance.
Judas and Peter are probably the most frightening of all the figures in the New Testament because we see ourselves in them. We are all Judas at times in our lives.
We often do not understand our own propensity for sin and betrayal until it is too late. Until the damage is done, we do not see it.
Our shadow side
Betrayal grows out of our shadow side, often out of our fears, insecurities, wounds and scars. We are wounded, hurting, rejected human beings. Every one of us is tempted to betray the unfailing love of Jesus Christ when we are afraid, lonely, wounded, broken.
It is who we are.
We do not know our motivations, nor the motivations of Judas.
Perhaps need for recognition, selfish centeredness, arrogance, pride, fear, anger.
Perhaps something for himself: power, recognition, riches — 30 pieces of silver was about four months of wages.
We do not know what brought Judas even to the point of giving over the One who loves, heals and sustains him.
And Peter: denying the love that was there for him.
Good, faithful work
Our work in this place, in this building on Capitol Hill, is almost always about addressing the wounds, the injustices and brokenness of the world. It is good and faithful work. We have a calling, a passion to right the injustices, the wrongs. We have a desire to make the world right.
There is so much pain in the world that we see daily, weekly, yearly. But it leaves each one of us so very vulnerable.
I just finished reading John Grisham’s novel Gray Mountain. I could hardly stand even to read the story about an area that I know well. It tells of the pain of the people of the region affected by mountain-top removal, poverty and the power of large companies with so much money to buy them off for so little.
Having been a chaplain, I cannot forget telling mothers and fathers of an unexpected heart attack of a son, the suicide of a daughter, a motorcycle accident in the night resulting in a call to parents in Korea, a drunken St. Patrick’s Day that never returned a child home. This is hard ministry.
Living in denial
That much sorrow can cause one to live in denial: compartmentalizing, and quietly carrying the unbearable pain.
It is very easy to forget the effect of living with pain and injustice. We forget to examine, remember the wounds and pains that got us here and keep us here. None of us is free from this woundedness and brokenness. We have all suffered too many broken promises, injured families, faltering trust, communities that hurt, sickness, love lost, damnable insecurity, the hunger for recognition.
These are days of remembering our brokenness and naming, naming our sorrow, for it will surely lead to betrayal. The heart aches, the scars, the times we were wounded, broken hearts and injured bodies. All that makes us vulnerable all the time.
There is the One
Remembering our brokenness and naming the origins that push us out into the world is part of our holy work.
There is healing work done for us. While we may be prompted by brokenness, we do not have to carry it. We can let it go. We can give it over.
There is the One who bears the unbearable, heals the sick, binds us the broken, and gives sight.
There is the One whose love will not let us go.
There is the One who holds us in embrace until the morning comes.