“But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.” (Luke 22:21)
Jesus’ preclusion that Judas would betray does not exactly make it into our regular invitations to the table- come all you who will betray the Christ. We redact this portion out of our familiar sacramental liturgy.
Except for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Here, when we pass the bread and cup, we recognize the way in which we often identify more with Judas than the other eleven who reclined alongside Jesus in upper room. We are those whose hands cling to the Eucharistic table one moment and deny the crucified and risen One the next. We are those who are complicit with the powers that be and the social norms that are as we hand over the innocent for the sake of our personal and systemic gain. We are those who kiss the face of Christ only to run away as prisoners to fear, cowardice, and an inability to imagine the kingdom of God truly being able to make a difference and break into the madness of our world.
As the hymn goes, “This night injustice joins its hand to treasons…” (This Is the Night, #206)
Maundy Thursday, when we remember the new commandment to love one another, also exposes Judas as parable for each of us and the church at large. We are called to faith yet caught within the lures of duplicitous politics of privilege and narratives of self-preservation that betray our call and witness.
Much like the disciples, who reach for their swords and resort to old tricks of injustice and myths of redemptive violence, we need the words of Christ these days:
“Stop! No more of this!”
In the midst of endless streams of ignorance, discrimination, and fear of the other, Jesus says to the wayward church and world- Stop. No More of this betrayal.
As calls to bear arms come from pulpits and faith leaders, politicians and social media feeds, and violence is assumed as able to solve violence, Jesus says to the wayward church and world- Stop. No More of this betrayal.
When tempted to build higher walls and endorse legislation that prevents those fleeing instability and oppression from finding safety and security in our land, Jesus says to the wayward church and world- Stop. No More of this betrayal.
When our personal, congregational, and corporate budgets exploit those who have less access and opportunity, Jesus says to the wayward church and world- Stop. No More of this betrayal.
The list could go on and on and on...
Each of us are indeed welcome to the table on Maundy Thursday and every day we institute the sacrament. We also remember our hands are often joined with both those of Christ and those of injustice and treason. Thanks be to God for Good Friday, when Christ once and for all said, "enough," as invitation to cease our betrayal and embrace renewed faithfulness in the midst of a world desperate for resurrected hope and welcome.