Holy Week: The traitor is always a friend…

-Holy Tuesday-

“However, there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray Him.)  (John 6:64)

Jesus told him, “Whoever has already bathed needs only to wash his feet, and he will be completely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For He knew who would betray Him. That is why He said, “Not all of you are clean.” ( John 13:11)

When Jesus had thus spoken, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”  The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke.  One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus;  so Simon Peter beckoned to him and said, “Tell us who it is of whom he speaks.”  So lying thus, close to the breast of Jesus, he said to him, “Lord, who is it?”  Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot  Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”  (John 13: 21-27)

Father in Heaven, ever-living source of all that is good, keep me faithful in serving You. Help me to drink of Christ’s Truth, and fill my heart with His Love so that I may serve You in faith and love and reach eternal life.In the Sacrament of the Eucharist You give me the joy of sharing Your Life. Keep me in Your presence. Let me never be separated from You and help me to do Your Will. Amen. Ora Pro Nobis.

We note in the book of John that Jesus repeats in three separate occurrences that someone will betray Him and that he knows who it will be.  In fact, it goes as far as to say that he knew all along who would betray him.  It’s effect is nonetheless devastating to Him.  Scripture tells us that “he was troubled in spirit“.  We can take from that what Chesterton makes note of in the following observations from The New Jerusalem : God does not wink at betrayal as we seem to do so often today.  He makes no excuse for it.  We on the other hand, are expected to take it as a matter of course, because in our day it happens so frequently.  Yet to any of us who have experienced betrayal, David’s words in the 55th Psalm hit home: “For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me— then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng.”  And so Chesterton tells us the same in what Judas represents about the crux of betrayal – it always someone familiar who does it, which is why it is such a heinous action. The difference between how betrayal was seen in Chesterton’s day when the name ‘Judas‘ was still used as a public epitaph and ours is telling.  It is reminding us that the atmosphere has changed.  Christ prophesied how the act of betrayal that happened to Him would happen to Christians in that time  and in the time that is coming when he foretold of betrayals felt personally but happening on a worldwide scale : “Then they will deliver you over to be persecuted and killed, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray and hate one another, and many false prophets will arise and mislead many.…” (Matthew 24:10)

If there is one proper noun which has become a common noun, if there is one name which has been generalised till it means a thing, it is certainly the name of Judas. We should hesitate perhaps to call it a Christian name, except in the more evasive form of Jude. And even that, as the name of a more faithful apostle, is another illustration of the same injustice; for, by comparison with the other, Jude the faithful might almost be called Jude the obscure. The critic who said, whether innocently or ironically, “What wicked men these early Christians were!” was certainly more successful in innocence than in irony; for he seems to have been innocent or ignorant of the whole idea of the Christian communion. Judas Iscariot was one of the very earliest of all possible early Christians. And the whole point about him was that his hand was in the same dish; the traitor is always a friend, or he could never be a foe. But the point for the moment is merely that the name is known everywhere merely as the name of a traitor. The name of Judas nearly always means Judas Iscariot; it hardly ever means Judas Maccabeus. And if you shout out “Judas” to a politician in the thick of a political tumult, you will have some difficulty in soothing him afterwards, with the assurance that you had merely traced in him something of that splendid zeal and valour which dragged down the tyranny of Antiochus, in the day of the great deliverance of Israel.

Those two possible uses of the name of Judas would give us yet another compact embodiment of the case for Zionism. Numberless international Jews have gained the bad name of Judas, and some have certainly earned it. If you have gained or earned the good name of Judas, it can quite fairly and intelligently be affirmed that this was not the fault of the Jews, but of the peculiar position of the Jews. A man can betray like Judas Iscariot in another man’s house; but a man cannot fight like Judas Maccabeus for another man’s temple.”

-G. K. Chesterton,  The New Jerusalem, 1920

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