Minute Meditations

Pain of Betrayal

There is a poignant passage in the Servant Song from Isaiah that illustrates and prepares us for two betrayals that are about to happen: “I thought I had toiled in vain and uselessly, I have exhausted myself for nothing” (Isaiah 49:4). Surely that is the human feeling after someone we love turns against us. On some level, we all feel we have made some kind of contract with life, when life does not come through as we had hoped, and we feel a searing pain called betrayal. It happens to all of us in different ways. It is a belly punch that leaves us with a sense of futility and emptiness. And here it happens to Jesus from two of his own inner circle, both Judas and Peter. The more love and hope you have invested in another person, the deeper the pain of betrayal is. If it happens at a deep and personal level, we wonder if he will ever trust again. Your heart does “break.” It is one of those crossroad moments, when the breaking can forever close you down, or in time just the opposite—open you up to an enlargement of soul—as we will see in Jesus this week. What is happening is that we are withdrawing a human dependency, finding grace to forgive and let go, and relocating our little self in The Self (God), which never betrays us. It can’t! It might take years for most of us to work through this; for Jesus it seems to have been natural, although who knows how long it took him to get there. All we see in the text is that there are no words of bitterness at all, only a calm, unblaming description in the midst of the “night,” which is almost upon us. 

“Solitary Jesus, you get more alone as the week goes on, till all you have is a naked but enduring hope in God. Do not bring me to such a test, I would not know how to survive.”

— from the book Wondrous Encounters: Scriptures for Lent
by Richard Rohr, OFM, page 128


Wondrous Encounters by Richard Rohr


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