There’s a certain way in which you or I or anyone can do the detestable while saying “It’s no big deal…It’s worth the money….Someone will make a few bucks doing it anyway…Why not let it be me?” That’s the way of Judas Iscariot, remembered for his betrayal of Jesus in exchange for a large payday: two handfuls of silver. 2,000 years of people look back on him as the way not to be. He acted because he wanted a payday, not out of conviction. In fact, judging by his level of remorse, he took it even further and acted against his conviction. In the age of corona we are told that “visit us online” is the same as two or three gathered in His name. Worship in a sanctuary is the same as on a laptop in my living room. We know it isn’t. On
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There’s a certain way in which you or I or anyone can do the detestable while saying “It’s no big deal…It’s worth the money….Someone will make a few bucks doing it anyway…Why not let it be me?”
That’s the way of Judas Iscariot, remembered for his betrayal of Jesus in exchange for a large payday: two handfuls of silver.
2,000 years of people look back on him as the way not to be. He acted because he wanted a payday, not out of conviction. In fact, judging by his level of remorse, he took it even further and acted against his conviction.
In the age of corona we are told that “visit us online” is the same as two or three gathered in His name. Worship in a sanctuary is the same as on a laptop in my living room.
We know it isn’t.
On the seventh Sunday after Easter, I held my eighth solo church service of the previous eight weeks. The lectionary for the day recounted how Judas spent his wealth (Acts 1:18-19).
“18 With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.”
Judas betrayed Jesus. That’s awful. The act of betrayal is seldom as hard on another as it is on the one doing the betraying.
Some people are built to betray others & have nothing to do with this topic
I’m not taking about the political operative who betrays people about as often as he dry cleans his suits.
Nor am I talking about the Karen who makes it her hobby to snitch on others, some of whom would never suspect her.
I’m not talking about the undercover police officer on the vice squad setting up stings to lure people into his confidence in the commission of some victimless crime, or his brethren on the other side of the law, the confidence man pulling the wool over people’s eyes. If the two of them would just stay home, the world would certainly be a better place without their entrapment. They likely get out of bed in the morning because it gives some part of them joy to do harm to another.
I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the people who betray the best parts of themselves in exchange for a paycheck.
Is it really worth the few extra pieces of silver?
What if a person had to make $40,000 a year by staying true to their convictions, instead of $140,000 or $400,000. Would the world really be so much more awful a place for that person?
What if they had to give up a few thousand dollars a month and some luxuries if it meant a few more hours a week to tend to the parts of themselves they most cared about, the parts of them that were unique.
Would that be so bad?
The resounding response from our culture is “Yes!”
That response is made all the more horrific by the fact that so few in our era live in destitute poverty. Destitute poverty is not the penalty for standing by your convictions. A modest existence can be managed at any pay grade in this era, with far more wealth, ease, and longevity, than your counterparts a century ago.
Our era encourages that you do all you can to dismiss the parts of you that are unique. Do all you can to be the cookie cutter ideal of life that will allow your boss to pad your paycheck with an extra $2,000 next year and add another adjective to your title. For the hope of that 30 pieces of silver each year or two, you betray not someone else.
You betray yourself.
That’s one of the great tragedies of American life: Self-Betrayal, even in the midst of such extensive freedom and prosperity
That is the great tragedy of Judas Iscariot. That is the great tragedy of American life. In a country where the word “job” was once seen as a toxic, anti-human concept, person-after-person is raised in a school system meant to condition maximum compliance, complete with bars and bells.
The school system offers an important 12 to 18 year process, or perhaps greater, of dulling the child’s mind in its most vital years.
In the name of “education,” with the promise of empowering the individual, many positive aspects of the individual are minimized and used to form him into a ready economic entity, almost a commodity.
Ready economic entities are fantastic. Business schools and MBA programs help the right sort of people be more that sort of people and the wrong sort of people figure out how poorly they fit. To work on making a five, ten, or fifteen-year-old into such an object and having that as the primary focus of their lives is a different story. By six-weeks-old, many children have been started on this process in day care.
Perhaps two weeks of those 18 years will be spent with the likes of thinkers like Henry David Thoreau or Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote soul-affirming commentary like:
“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
These men are America’s response to Judas Iscariot.
The rest of those days in school will be spent with the most psychologically manipulative demands for compliance in every area of that child’s life, but most importantly in her thoughts.
America’s Contemporary Intellectual Shift — The Ides of March 2020
Until the Ides of March 2020, a far more influential body in America was believed by this observer to be America’s response to Judas Iscariot. The Church was not an American creation, but it was an American tradition. One day each week was reserved for inoculation against whatever the secular world might throw at you.
One might think the entire structure of the church year was established to provide exactly that: The raising and encouraging of a passionate and diligent believer in Christ to avoid being Judas Iscariot at all cost. At that time, the Ides of March 2020, the Church abrogated that responsibility. The leaders of the Church, lay and clergy, let Holy Week 2020 pass behaving far more like Judas Iscariot than any homilies to the contrary could ever remedy.
It was the betrayal of what is truest, the betrayal of what is most dear, most important, most beneficial, most pure. To avoid secular fines, to continue secular tax breaks, to avoid secular confinement, to be prudent, to be good citizens, to maintain secular credibility, to ensure one was always seen as acting reasonably — for minor secular benefits — the forsaking of major spiritual endeavors was insisted, and complied with, fawningly so.
Few clergy could have virtue signaled with any greater speed and demonstration than they did and continue to do. Few could have shown any better through their actions why you don’t betray your deepest passions for momentary gain.
Through Holy Week, through Easter, and, for many, through Pentecost — the most vital institutions in our society and the most vital buildings that house them have been shuttered by those entrusted with their enduring safekeeping and maintenance. The enemy has truly been shown to be within these walls.
From the Ides of March 2020 our leaders who long taught us not to be like Judas Iscariot, have proven themselves the greatest hypocrites in the room, as they have rendered damage to our most precious institutions, that only they, in their positions of trust, could have rendered, much like one of the 12 most trusted people allowed to flank Jesus.
Do you happen to know the way to Bunessan?
I assure you this is not it.