Guardini on Our Similarity to Judas


“Betrayal of the divine touches us all. What can I betray? That which has entrusted itself to my loyalty. But God—entrusted to me? Precisely. God did not reveal himself merely by teaching a truth, giving us commands to which he attaches consequences, but by coming to us, personally. His truth is himself. And to him who hears, he gives his own strength, again himself. To hear God means to accept him. To believe means to accept him in truth and loyalty. The God we believe in is the God who “comes” into heart and spirit, surrendering himself to us. He counts on the loyalty of that heart, the chivalry of that spirit. Why? Because when God enters the world, he puts aside his omnipotence. His truth renounces force, as his will renounces that coercive power which would set the consequences immediately after every deed. God enters the world defenceless, a silent patient God. He “emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave” (Phil. 2:7). All the more profound his summons to the believer: Recognize an unassuming God! Be loyal to defenceless majesty!…And yet, aren’t there many days in our lives on which we sell him, against our best knowledge, against our most sacred feeling, in spite of duty and love, for some vanity, or sensuality, or profit, or security, or some private hatred or vengeance? Are these more than thirty pieces of silver? We have little cause to speak of “the traitor” with indignation or as someone far away and long ago. Judas himself unmasks us. We understand his Christian significance in the measure that we understand him from our own negative possibilities, and we should beg God not to let the treachery into which we constantly fall become fixed within us. The name Judas stands for established treason, betrayal that has sealed the heart, preventing it from finding the road back to genuine contrition.” (The Lord, V,7, helpfully transcribed by “mind your maker”)

(Guardini is hard to translate. Here are the last three sentences in his magnificent German: “Uns selbst enthüllt Judas. In dem Maße versteht man ihn christlich, als man ihn aus den bösen Möglichkeiten des eigenen Herzens heraus versteht, und Gott bittet, er möge den Verrat, in den wir immer wieder gleiten, nicht sich verfestigen lassen. Denn daß der Verrat sich verfestigt; daß er vom Herzen Besitz nimmt und dieses Herz keinen Weg mehr in die lebendige Reue findet – das ist Judas!” How jejune the translation is in comparison.)

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