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The Betrayal of God

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Sermon for the first Sunday in Lent

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Surely, these are the most chilling words a Christian can hear, for this is the sound of abandonment, an expression of betrayal. If God abandons and betrays us, what hope have we left? And yet, there seem to be many who are indeed victims of betrayal.

A woman thrown out of her home.

A baby thrown under a bush to die.

A man told to sacrifice his only son.

A young man facing his own father who is ready to kill him.

A nation overrun by a controlling empire.

A man whose friends have betrayed him to the authorities or left him to face execution alone.

These images may be found in the pages of Holy Scripture. They may also be found in the news today. Betrayal is real. The sense of being betrayed by God is real.

[PAUSE]

In our abandonment, we are overwhelmed with so many negative feelings. We mourn the loss. We shiver in our nakedness, exposed to the elements where once we were protected. We shiver in fear as we realise our invulnerability and expect agony to strike at any minute. We want to stay still because we don’t know what’s out there. We want to run to escape the danger that is stalking us. And we are left with that single most horrible truth that we are utterly on our own.

If God abandons us then we are so very much on our own but if God betrays us, then we are confronted with even worse emotions: revulsion, loathing and utter hatred. We say with the psalmist:

“Let the sentence of guiltiness proceed against him: and now that he lieth, let him rise up no more. Yea, even mine own familiar friend, whom I trusted: who did also eat of my bread, hath laid great wait for me.”

It isn’t for nothing that Dante describes Judas being in the lowest, darkest, coldest region of Hell. If God betrays us, then perhaps He isn’t real.

[PAUSE]

Many people think this and rejoice. It means that they can do what they want. It means nothing matters and the best thing to do is just to enjoy life and perish in the grave. Make up your own morality – it’s all good!

No, no it isn’t.

The problem with betrayal is that it casts a veil over our eyes and this is not always our fault. Betrayal strikes at us deeply. We are wounded at the core and it is difficult to see how this can possibly heal.

Betrayal is a very long and sharp spear that penetrates deep inside of us to our very heart.

But doesn’t that sound familiar?

[PAUSE]

At the time He is betrayed, Our Lord is doing something vitally important. He gives us His Body and Blood to eat and drink. This is not symbolic, but a real physical reality. We take into ourselves His Body: a Body that is betrayed, wounded at the very heart by the cruel lance, from which wound pours His Precious Blood. In giving us Himself, Our Lord has made the ultimate identification with all humanity. He is here to suffer WITH us and, in suffering with us, He gives our pain and sorrow, our misery at the hands of those without pity, a meaning more glorious than our betrayers want for us.

Our Lord takes all our betrayal upon Himself on the Cross. This cry of abandonment, of betrayal that He screams from the cross is for us. It is our suffering that He brings to His Father in Heaven. It means that we are heard. In our abandonment, we are heard. In our misery, we are heard. In our danger, we are heard. In the agony of the most excruciating torture, we are heard.

God has not betrayed us. He has given us His Body and Blood: He cannot betray us.

But we still suffer.

[PAUSE]

Yes, and that is Mankind’s fault for sinning right at the beginning. Humanity walked away from God first. Our suffering is part of the struggle to free ourselves from Evil to get back to what is Good. When we are betrayed, the veil comes down to obscure us from the truth of God’s goodness. Yet, at the crucifixion of Our Lord, the veil is torn in two.

We suffer and we suffer hard. But whatever obscures the Light of God’s love for us can be torn away by turning to Him. The Bible is full of complaints to God. The point is that He hears everyone. But we have to be patient even when suffering seems unendurable. We have to trust, even when it seems that God Himself has betrayed us. We have to have faith even when we can see no good, no way out, and no end.

[PAUSE]

Lent bids us rise above our feelings to look to the Truth of our situation. We find that Truth in the Cross, and that Cross points to God’s glory and our joy!

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