Why is betrayal so painful? Because it is born of love. One can not betray one’s enemy. We can only betray those who trust us. During Easter week we contemplated Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. How do we adopt the Savior’s loving arms and make them our own?
In the villa (Argentine slum) I have been attending the “Misa Clandestina” or Underground Mass. It’s not really underground, but it is at an unusual time, Tuesdays at 4pm. The priest chose this time because it is meant to be a mass for the common people, for the excluded. Even in the villa the specter of religiosity rears its ugly head. The middle class borders the villa and some consider themselves the owners of the parish. Others feel left out. So the priest set up what he jokingly calls the Misa Clandestina. Last week he spoke of the theme of betrayal, and I add my reflections here. (Here’s a fuzzy photo I snapped at the service.)
Who hurts us the most? Those we love and those we trust because we open our hearts to them. In my case it might be my kids. I want the best for them and do all I can for them. I give all I can. And they betray me. No, they don’t steal from me or give my credit card away, but they might treat me with disrespect. What parent hasn’t had their kid tell them that they are a terrible parent? Or we hear the famous battle cry, “Why did you even have me in the first place?!” Indeed.
How often my blood has boiled at the transgressions of my sons. When you have five sons you have all flavors of conflict. I am amazed at how a five-year-old can take me out of my position. It’s a spiritual linebacker blindsiding you with the sharp tongue of a teenager. You feel like a worm after you lose your temper. Sure, slam the car door, break it even… fine Christian example you are. Even though this pales in comparison to the gravity of other betrayals, the root is the same… an exaggerated response to aggression. It just hurts more because we love. So, I transgress against my Heavenly Father in reaction to the transgressions of my sons against me. Where do I turn to? Do I pay heed to the Accuser and close in upon myself, or do I return back to those Loving Arms?
God’s message is always, “No matter what I accept you. I take you back. You can return to my loving arms under any circumstance. Only my embrace can defeat your rejection of me.” And that’s what I feel sometimes, a rejection from my kids. It can’t be this way! It won’t be this way! Then the Lord’s grace sneaks in quietly, “Anybody home?” He calms me, soothes me. Quiets me down like the child that I am. So this grace I return to my son. I tell him, don’t look for perfection in me. I know I try to be perfect in your eyes and I fail. What I really need is your help son. I can’t get through this life without you and without your help.
This is service. This is authority. This is redemption… all due to His mercy and not of the strength of my will.
Villa update: Things here are surreal. The stories you hear reach such a magnitude that you sometimes wonder if they are true. But when you visit the hospital and see the victims you know that Spiritual Warfare is deadly and real. The priest we are supporting has had his life threatened twice now. For what? For preaching the Gospel message. For giving some people in misery hope and in this hope they stand up for themselves. So we pray and invoke our God, a Powerful Giant to stand before us. Many blessings to all.