Monday, July 23, 2018
While Christ was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.” At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” – Matthew 26:47-50
With a kiss! Betrayal in a most intimate manner. I have always found that moment significant, one filled with human pathos, one that reveals the darkness that is often lurking within even a believer. But, it is only of late that I have noticed something I somehow overlooked. After the kiss, Jesus calls Judas, “friend”.
In spite of Judas’ misunderstanding the circumstance, in spite of Judas being taken over by the clever darkness, in spite of Judas’ willful pride to force the crisis, Christ still refers to Judas as Friend. No greater mercy I have I known. No greater love than to forgive at the risk of one’s own life.
After a lifetime of ministry, I have observed that Christians easily say they are a forgiving people, but when it comes to an intimate betrayal, to forgive is an act of great struggle. It is that “kiss of betrayal”: a trust broken, a rumor spread, a confidence not honored, a friendship exploited. When betrayal comes by way of kiss … it is desperately difficult to forgive.
Two matters I suppose … have we ever betrayed another in intimate ways; have we had to forgive an intimate betrayal?
To maintain the “Friend”-ship in spite of it all … that takes the power of Christ to do.
Always in Christ’s Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz