Saturday, April 01, 2006
Love in the Midst of Betrayal The following is an excerpt from the current Credo column in the Sunday Times, written by the Rt Rev Geoffrey Rowell, the Anglican Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe: A scientist has to trust a hypothesis and put it to the test in order to discover its truth. Faith in God is learnt by reaching out in prayer, by risking our lives on his love and testing it to the point of destruction. The faith of Jesus in His Father was so tested in His betrayal, in his being handed over to the political and religious powers of His day, and ultimately in His crying out in agony on the cross in words from the psalms: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” In that cry and in that obedience the Christian faith proclaims that the God with whom we have to do is a God who paradoxically knows what a world without God — and therefore without meaning — is like. He came down to the lowest part of our need. The beginning of the Passion comes with the moment of betrayal when Judas, one of the inner circle of the Disciples, leads the enemies of Jesus to seize Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where the olives are pressed out — either for gain, or to provoke divine intervention. Jesus will have known the psalmist’s words that it was “my own familiar friend whom I trusted who has lifted up his hand against me”. But on that night of betrayal Jesus, sitting with His Disciples, took bread and wine. In breaking and sharing them He identified them as His body and blood, His very life to be shared with them. Communion, which is the very life of the Church, is established in the midst of betrayal, and so it is that whenever and wherever the Church obeys the command of Jesus, to share His life, the Church remembers that it was on the night on which He was betrayed that He said: “You are to go on doing this in remembrance of me.” His life, then and now, was shared with sinners and not with those who had earned their salvation or achieved their righteousness. He shares that life with disciples who still betray Him, but always to draw them with the bands of His love into His life and His love, the communion for which we all were made.