In Holy Week we are reminded that we, who claim to follow Jesus, are capable of betrayal. And that betrayals come in all shapes and sizes, all motivations and permutations. They can be very small but cut over and over like a thousand paper cuts just as easily as they can be cuts to the throat from behind. Judas plays that out in this week’s drama.
In Holy Week we are reminded of the paranoid violence of empire and church. We are warned about the dangers of the self-interest among the professionally religious. And that too can take all shapes and sizes. What we know from experience is that charm and manipulation will keep truth at bay for a very long time among those whose lives are too busy and too exhausted to be able to see what is happening around them.
The people in the villages near Auschwitz wondered about the flakes of ash falling in their soup and on the water of their wells but life was busy and there was milking to do and the baby was crying and their feet hurt. We do more harm by what we do not stop than by what we perpetrate.
And we too, you and I, in big and small ways wonder only slightly if the shopping we did last night, because we needed a power-fix, might in some way be connected to the suffering in Trou-du-Nord, Haiti if only because that money could have been sent to an agency which relieves the poor. Perhaps those new glasses, that new book, that new shirt was not really anything more than needed to find a way to anesthetize our pain or loneliness or both. What were the disciples doing who were not at the cross with John and Mary? Had they found some form of socially acceptable anesthesia? Were they shopping or having sex, or staring at the floor with just a bit too much wine?
We cannot remove our gaze on a particular man who refuses to withdraw his new way of being in the Kingdom of God. He risks it all. We watch this week.
And then we linger with the question: what does it mean for me to be saved? Saved from what? Saved for what?
The only question not murky is “Save by whom?”