20When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; 21and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.
The seventh station on the Via Dolorosa is Jesus’ second fall. Marked by a Roman column housed in a Catholic Chapel, it is the traditional place where the Gate of Judgment stood. This is the place where judgments were passed on those that had committed crimes. And here, passing out of the city, Jesus falls again. Though surrounded by a host of onlookers and curious tourists, he is alone, deserted and betrayed by those whom he had loved. You can surmise that they were fearful for themselves, perhaps even fearful that there would be no one to carry the message into the future. But let’s be honest. They just weren’t there. The night before, Jesus had dipped his hand into a bowl that others at the table would also touch and dip. Jesus knew that the one who had dipped his hand into the bowl with him would betray him.
I know. The story picks up with Judas right after the verses of Scripture that I used. We like thinking of Judas as the poster boy of betrayal. That’s an easy way out, to blame it on the most obvious perpetrator, the one who makes us all look like saints. And yet, Jesus’ words as the writer of this Gospel portrayed them, says “the one who has dipped his hand…” Think about it. It was a community bowl. ALL of those at the table dipped their hands in the bowl. The truth is, Jesus probably knew that he would be alone on this day, that all would in their own way betray him–one by a kiss, one by a denial, and others by stepping back into their fears that they, too, might be found out.
Polish-born writer Isaac Singe said that “when you betray someone else you also betray yourself.” The reason, I think, is because betrayal cuts so deep that you lose a part of yourself. If someone asked you what the opposite of faith is, you’d probably immediately say doubt. But, think about it, doubt compels one to search, compels one to question, compels one to grow. Doubt and faith are inextricably intertwined. The opposite of faith, the antithesis of faith, of journeying toward who you are called to be is more than likely betrayal. It is completely contrary to “love your neighbor” as well as to “love God with [all you are]”. Betrayal is a loss of who one is called to be.
And so Jesus falls, alone, defeated, betrayed. He was feeling the ultimate of rejection. All he had left was hope. And so he breathed deeply and continued on. And his betrayers cowered behind closed doors feeling a loss that they could not describe. Surely not I…surely not I…surely not I.
In this Season of Lent, think of ways that you betray who you are called to be, ways that you cut yourself off from life, from others, from God. Then, rise up, for you faith has made you whole.
Grace and Peace,