The cross represents all the love of God,which is greater than our iniquities and our betrayals. In the cross we see the monstrosity of man, when he allows evil to guide him; but we also see the immensity of the mercy of God, who does not treat us according to our sins but according to his mercy. ~ Pope Francis
This half of the world awoke again to a horrific bombing in Europe by terrorists, an act that demonstrates the monstrosity of humanity when evil is our guide. Holy Week leads us to betrayal, the cross, and beyond to Love. Betrayals cross lines. Betrayals impose the cross. Betrayals, such as the one today in Brussels, bleed. They do not have the final word though.
The cross is first and foremost a tangible sign of the love of God. In the Gospel reading today from John 13, Jesus is betrayed by Judas. As he gathers with his friends for the last supper, Jesus, we are told, was troubled in spirit, as he announced that one of those gathered would betray him. Jesus tells Judas to do quickly what he must do. I had this image of ripping off a bandage in one rapid motion as opposed to tugging it off little by little. Somehow that is supposed to make the pain less intense or shorter in duration. Did it work, I wonder, with this betray? Was it less painful to have it done so quickly? Was it a different hurt than listening to the cock crow once, twice, thrice?
Betrayal seeks to destroy people at some level. I think betrayal is also about protecting one’s own interests. For Judas, those desires were different than Peter’s and thus the motivation to betray came from a different place. Self-interest over self-preservation; greed over fear.
When we turn instead to the love of God, we see different outcomes too. Judas, unable to reconcile what he has done, commits suicide. Peter weeps with shame and then accepts the mercy and love of Christ which allows him to continue to serve God. The mercy of God is what frees us from bondage. Once we see how generous God is we can move forward.
We are all capable of betrayals. We also have a choice of how to then repent and turn to God for mercy and love. May we always be wise and humble enough to admit our wrongs. May we also let the love and mercy we are shown be reflected back into our world in need of healing. I pray for our hurting world this Holy Week that the monstrosity of evil not win but rather that Love woos us back.
Is there a betrayal that you are still grappling to forgive? What mercy can you show?
Look at the cross this Holy Week. Love hangs there. What do you need to say to Love?
The road to Calvary is paved with betrayals. Help us to forgive those who have hurt us. Let us instead of being bitter, be better. May I default to your love and mercy rather than my anger and hatred, knowing that I too stand in need of this. Woo me back, Jesus. Amen.