In John 13, two things happen.
One: Jesus is betrayed. Whatever your goals or plans are, there will be people who do not agree and have a difference of values. They stand to lose something because of your stance and decisions. Also, betrayal is painful.
Two: After the betrayal, Jesus gives them a new commandment to follow. “Love each other”. One thought in the tradition is that it’s a new commandment because it builds on the first one to “love God”. In the face of betrayal, Jesus calls his disciples to love each other. It’s the only way God’s love is displayed.
In the last 10 years, the internal betrayal and hatred Americans have for one another is disheartening. Polarization on any topic has caused such disdain and contempt for the other that it has affected the way we live with one another. Some see the American flag and are triggered. Others fly the trump flags as a substitute for the real one.
We’ve lost the ability to cultivate peace which is an expression of love. In our stance to speak our truths, we have been betrayed or betrayed others. We need a courage that will help us go inward and cultivate peace in our hearts first.
We need a courage for self-expression and also a courage for communal-participation. We find ourselves and “the other” in both. This is one of the tensions that America is struggling with (i.e. personal rights/freedoms, communal responsibility). We need the deep grounding God offers to realize both (which are, at times, in tension with each other).
In Thich Nhat Hanh’s book on anger, he invites us to cultivate peace in our hearts instead of trying to find it “out there”. We must learn how to acknowledge our anger and cradle it as a baby infant so that we don’t act out in tantrums.
How might we slow down and sit with our anger and betrayals? How might we see that we too are contributing to the collective problem by not soothing our anger? To the degree that we’re angry and act out towards, we short circuit our ability to cope with betrayal and pain. We continue to transmit it in hostile and negative ways.
How might Jesus’ call to love each other in the midst of betrayal be our own call today?