“One of you is going to betray me.”
Jesus, at table with those he loved, in the company of the Twelve He had personally chosen, makes a shocking statement. And yet it echoes the experience of the Christian Church and of Christian Families throughout the ages.
Just as Jesus chooses human beings, with all their imperfections, weaknesses and vulnerability to temptation, so the Church from age to age, and every human family, is composed of fallible human beings. And among those beautiful, precious, beloved people are those whom we know are more likely to let us down. The one with a drink problem. The one who gambles. The one who cannot bear to be thought lacking, so makes countless promises which cannot be kept.
In the Church, we have experienced treachery in the form of priests abusing their power over children and vulnerable adults; through the mis-handling of money; through the understandable slowness of leaders to address the wrongdoing of their underlings.
In many families there is a child who will walk away from the family home with the impetuosity of youth, only to return like the prodigal son when there are no other options left.
Sometimes betrayal comes as a bolt from the blue, but often enough, we see it coming. We are all too aware of the weaknesses of those we love. We hope for the best but expect trouble… yet because we are people who love, we still dare to hope. Love is always patient, always endures, and bears no record of wrong.
Simon Peter cannot follow Jesus into betrayal there and then, but Jesus says he will follow later. Each one of us follows Jesus down the bridlepath of betrayal when we dare to love someone whose vulnerability is clear. Each one of us follows Jesus on the royal road of forgiveness when we welcome back those who have betrayed us, with the embrace of love.
True forgiveness means we offer our friendship and affection willingly and freely to a contrite traitor – not once, but seventy times seven. As for trust, this takes longer to restore, as Simon Peter would discover in a difficult conversation with the Risen Christ.
To which of your loved ones, today, can you say in your heart: “One of you is going to betray me?” Choose to love without limit – choose to love as Christ did – and in your life also, you will live the Christian life of treachery and forgiveness – in your life also, God will be glorified!