John Dear, SJBy Rev. John Dear, SJ, PCUSA Ambassador of Peace

After Jesus offers the bread and cup as his body and blood in a new covenant of nonviolence in the upper room during the Holy Thursday Passover meal, he quietly announces that one of the 12 will betray him. He can see the handwriting on the wall. The disciples immediately deny that they would do such a thing — and then they break into a nasty fight about which one of them is the greatest. Jesus has only hours left to live, but these arrogant, ignorant churchmen ignore his sufferings and focus on themselves instead. Not much has changed 2,000 years later. Betrayal, denial, argument and abandonment of Jesus seem to be the norm.

Rarely do people speak of the betrayal of Jesus and the continuing betrayals that occur today, or, for that matter, the breakdown of Jesus’ community for clues to the ongoing breakdown of the church today. Given the 30 million people who have left the Catholic church in the United States in the last few years and the widespread anger, hostility, dissension and arguments that tear us apart, I thought I would look at this painful theme of betrayal…

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