Holy Week with the Existentialists: Wednesday – Betrayal


Wednesday – Betrayal
Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10-11; Lk.22:1-6

“Now I know I’ve got a heart, because it’s breaking.”
The Tin Man, The Wizard of Oz

“One should not underestimate the courage it takes to heal from a human betrayal. Betrayal invariably affects the psyche to its deepest roots. When it is made conscious, it is experienced as a threat to one’s own being, and the path toward healing is paved with pain.”
Diane Courineau Brutsche (Jungian Analyst)

“There is no betrayal more wounding than the betrayal of love. It touches us in our most vulnerable spot, that of the helpless child who is totally dependent on another. This child always emerges in any relationship where the possibility of trusting in another person exists.”
Jacqueline Wright (psychologist)

“Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard
Some do it with a bitter look
Some with a flattering word
The coward does it with a kiss
The brave man with a sword”
Oscar Wilde, The Ballad Of Reading Gaol

Meditation – Make some space to think

As he placed that final final kiss on Jesus’ cheek, Judas must have wondered how he ended up in this situation. His love for Jesus was certain, he’d followed him, listened to him, believed in him.. he was the one. Yet here he was handing him over to authorities, only now sensing the weight of inevitable tragedy that was about to unfold.
To love, and to betray… he had always imagined they were so far apart, yet now, in this gloomy garden he understood they were closely connected. The exposure to love and be loved walks closely to the cliff edge of loss, betrayel or misunderstanding.

Yet, what did Jesus feel? The horror of being betrayed is one of the worst experiences in life, it devours trust, re-writes history and story, it cuts deep into our sense of identity. How hollow did the kiss on his cheek feel, what emptiness was placed there? Pain becomes language-destroying.

To love God might mean to betray God, to sense the Judas within ourselves. Maybe it is inevitable. We say we love God but miss the call of the stranger; the outsider, the hungry, the homeless, the earth. Yet loving God is these things… To love God is to fail, and to still love, and to know love.

But there is more.. maybe to love God is to lose God anyway; the images, the codes, the practices we have built up around God. As we empty ourselves of the expectation we contain God within, we ask are we really betraying God, or the imagination of what we think God is about? Did Judas betray, or obey?

And finally, can that emptiness be given by God to us… or the experience of it. What if God lets us down? Are we betrayed by God or our own expectations? The Psalm writers wrestled with God, argued with God, challenged God to be God. What is the authentic engagement with God in the situation of a harsh landscape?


In silence think about these issues. Allow your prayers or your silence to hold you safely and then brush close to the past; but not too close. Be kind to yourself, keep a safe distance and observe yourself. Allow the space to reflect. Be honest to yourself and to God.



Undertow by Warpaint      (Gary’s path)
Bros by Wolf Alice      (Vincent’s path)

All Holy week posts can be found here

Welcome to this series of Lent Reflections.

These reflections can be used in conjunction with the second Lent Album,
One Day Like This’, which is intended to evoke both space and mood.

Existentialist thinkers were concerned with how it feels to be alive. An awareness that we are alive—in any situation—reinforces a sense of identity. What do moments in time give to our awareness of who we are, where we fit in the world, in our communities, in the universe?

Holy Week is the most vivid and emotional week of the Church calendar. In it we see Jesus and his followers going through extreme human emotions; celebration, hope, doubt, fear, friendship, betrayal, isolation and surprise—emotions that we all encounter through our lives. The sharp contours of our lives, struggles and joys all contain the touch of divinity.

These daily meditations invite you to reflect upon your moments in time and place. They remind us that extremities of human experience can make us feel fully alive or totally isolated. Yet in sharing our experience, we realise that we are not alone; there is solidarity in humanity, and solidarity with the very human Christ.

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