The act of betrayal does not happen on a whim. Just like faith, it is cultivated from small acts that build and turn into habits. In the Gospel reading (Matthew 26:4-25) for this Wednesday of Holy Week, we again hear a perspective of Jesus calling out the one who will betray Him, Judas Iscariot. Throughout the Gospels there is a tension we see between Judas and the rest of Christ’s disciples. He carries the moneybag, and seems to have financial inspiration behind his devotion to Christ instead of Divine inspiration. He tends to see the world and the journey with the Son of God a little bit differently from his companions.
As a recovering addict and alcoholic who has betrayed those who love me the most, I can empathize with the desperation of Judas. Don’t get me wrong; this does not justify his greed and unfaithfulness. However, the power of darkness and self-seeking motives blinds us from all that is good around us. Even those who want to help us, including our Savior who can foretell the state of our heart, are at risk for being hurt when we are blinded by fear and darkness. In fact, this is evident by the language that Judas uses towards the Lord in the scene of his betrayal. While the other disciples refer to Jesus as “Lord”, Judas gives Christ an identity the underscores his divinity. “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Judas responds when Jesus says that His betrayer is amongst them. Years of journeying with Christ cannot overcome the sickness that has grown in Judas’ heart.
No one is immune from the harm that our addictions and worldly cravings cause. The insane drive to obtain the only thing we crave—whether wealth, drugs, sex, or whatever the next “fix” is—does not discriminate. I know this because this is my story. The ones I hurt the most in my active disease were there ones that were closest to me and loved me the most. Like Judas, I stole from them, lied to them, and took away any peace of mind that accompanied my relationships. It was not because I didn’t love them, it was because the thing I needed most—my “fix”—blinded me from seeing anything else.
Again, the betrayal of Judas did not happen over night. Our Lord proclaims, “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones” (Luke 16:10). Small acts left unchecked become habits and a way of seeing the world. The world that Judas saw was dark and hopeless. Peter, who we read in Tuesday’s Gospel, built a foundation of faithfulness to Christ so that even when his human weakness led him to deny Jesus three times, he was able to turn to the merciful hope that the Lord gave him.
Judas knew just how much he had sinned against the Lord; Peter knew how much he was loved by the Lord. Similarly, the active addict knows how much he has sinned; the recovering addict experiences just how much he is loved.
What are some small acts of betrayal that are in need of focus in your life?
How are you building a foundation of faith so that you can turn to the merciful love of the Lord after moments of weakness?
What actions are you taking to be “trustworthy in very small matters” so that you may “also be trustworthy in great ones”?