The word betray has all the following meanings according to the Dictionary and a few more as well but the following will suffice for my purposes in this post:
- to deliver or expose to an enemy by treachery or disloyalty: Benedict Arnold betrayed his country.
- to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining, or fulfilling: to betray a trust.
- to disappoint the hopes or expectations of; be disloyal to: to betray one’s friends.
- to reveal or disclose in violation of confidence: to betray a secret.
- to show or exhibit; reveal; disclose: an unfeeling remark that betrays his lack of concern.
- to deceive, misguide, or corrupt: a young lawyer betrayed by political ambitions into irreparable folly.
- to seduce and desert.
I was thinking lately about the act of betrayal and perhaps a bit on the very pinnacle of betrayal; the betrayal of Christ by the kiss of Judas. Now none of us likes to think that we would commit such a treasonous act against our friends, families, spouses, children and relatives much less against the Lord our God. Perhaps it is for this reason that I know of nobody who has not experienced betrayal in this life by others or who, sometimes unconscious of the fact or perhaps protected by excuses has in turn betrayed others their very self. It happens in marriages, among friends and is almost commonplace in corporate America where trust is repaid with betrayal to further one’s career or to create a new, more influential ‘friend’ that might aid ones climb up the old corporate ladder of success.
As we experience and re-experience such betrayals it seems one is prone to react in two different ways. First, one becomes reluctant to offer their trust to anyone for fear of being hurt and disappointed and second, one might become untrustworthy themselves thinking that it is far better to be the betrayer than the betrayed. The first response leads to depression and loneliness and almost predisposes people to be wary of anyone who approaches in friendship. The second leads one to despise others and see in them only a means to use them for their own gain; narcissism where only one’s own good is desired and there is no real love between persons though they may feign such affection for their own gain and groom them for other dastardly deeds in the future.
Betrayal is something that one never forgets but something that is possible to forgive and stop dwelling upon; though the possibility and remembrance is always lurking in the background and puts us in a defensive posture. Unless one has dementia, the memories mount up through life and one learns to be wary of becomings anyone’s fool.
It is that ordinary human reaction that makes both of these most obvious reactions stated seem unavoidable. But if not for Christ who has shown us another way; a third way. Though we can only imagine the hurt that Christ must have felt at the betrayal of Judas whom He loved, He was fully capable of not only forgiving Judas but in also forgetting his betrayal had Judas only acted as St. Peter did after betraying Christ 3 times. His sorrow, contrition, shame and tears would have been enough to have won Him the crown of saints had it not been for his pride. For pride is tied to betrayal and one is unlikely to admit their betrayal and ask forgiveness even taking one’s own life before admitting this deceit and act of betrayal. And therefore his self-hate destroyed his soul.
I do wonder about the rest of us who go through the normal life experience of betraying and being betrayed. How do we react and how do we find the grace to overcome the bitterness of heart or the loneliness that might take a firm grip on our lives. Or for those who become evil in our natures and never extend our trust to anyone and view all others as prey for us to ensnare and take advantage.
I have no answer outside of contemplating these experiences in our life and asking for forgiveness and for the grace to forgive those who have breached our trust. It seems an impossible human virtue depending on the depth of the deception but surely Christ knows all about what we have experienced and has the means to overcome them. Prayers are always in order but then again perhaps it is for our own good that we learn that we must find our own salvific grace before we go and try to save the world which has always placed lies before truth, hatred before love, and treachery above loyalty.
For perhaps in our solitude we might just realize Who it is that it is proper to give our trust, love and loyalty to; and it isn’t ourselves.
One of my favourite verses is: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” -Jeremiah 17:9 I’m afraid I am a misanthrope, which is a product of my idealism. As long as we hold onto our ideals (and we cannot really get rid of them, because they are part of the structure of the mind itself – see Kant’s work), we will always be open to disappointment, because man does not live up to them. Neither have the spirits: Heylel ben shahar fell, Azazel fell, Semyaza, etc.
I dare say that many Catholics feel betrayed by their leadership, just as many Britons feel betrayed by ours. It never ceases to amaze me how strong our selfish and deceitful impulses are. I am saddened that the Republic of Ireland has voted to repeal its anti-abortion laws and that people in Northern Ireland are clamouring for it too. Well, perhaps as a society we should all be saying the Confiteor:
Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatae Mariae semper virgini, et beato Michaeli archangel, sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, et omnibus sanctis, quia peccavi in cogitatione et verbo et facto, quo feci et non feci.
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I do think that as we age most of us lean more toward the misanthrope personality unless we seek to be the Judas or the Brutus.
If one is lucky enough to have been born into a good, warm and loving family it is simply amazing to live that small portion of one’s life with complete love, full trust and free of fear; looking forward to what each new day brings. I guess that is what we call innocence.
Then life happens and we find out that not everything is as it seems and that evil lurks in the hearts of men and that we may at times be the target of their evil and at times we may be the source of the evil as well. It is how we awaken to the often silent spiritual combat that never ceases. And yes a Confiteor is a must for us to take to heart and Jeremiah 17:9 hits the nail on the head.
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I think our sense of betrayal is also good evidence for the existence of God. I don’t think humans would feel this way if it weren’t for innate concepts against which we measure life and by which we measure life. If the atheists were right, sooner or later we’d be able to will ourselves out of feeling this way – but not even drugs can really destroy that aspect of the soul. If you listen to the cries of remorse and despair of people who’ve damaged their minds, those cries still seem to presuppose the Creator.
It’s an important point I think. We first trust everyone and then find out that we are being betrayed. Then we trust in ourselves and find, once again, that we are even betraying ourselves. What is is that we are measuring our Trust and Reliance against if not God Himself who is all Truth, Justice and Love?
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Steve Brown said:
Betrayal of Archbishop. This article points out how swiftly Bergoglio wants his former bishop gone, he can’t even live in the diocese.
I read it. Can’t say that it surprised me. Bergoglio has betrayed the entire Catholic Church.
I wonder what the bishop did. It couldn’t be for molesting young children. Clergy who do that are brought to the Vatican and given high positions like cardinal Law and good brother Pell.
I read an article the other day. The headline went something close to this….” People leaving the Church in Mexico. Leaders look to the Pope for guidance.”
Ive said it a billion times and ill say it once more….the CC is all about men…men and their statues, men in costumes, a man called Holy Father who is supposed to hold the place of Almighty God on this earth, heaven and hell. Hence the tiara crown the pope wears its not mentioned much anymore, because it could cause embarrassment. Embarrassing and obviously false catholic dogma Is usually swept under the rug now a days. But im here to make sure its slammed down catholics throats. You bought it, you eat it.