October 4th, 2012Anatomy of Betrayalby Kevin O'Brien | http://www.thewordinc.org

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.

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