A Tenebrae Reflection

April 3, 2015

On Mark 14:3-31

You were made in human likeness, found in appearance as a man—here, with us, with sounds and smells and tastes. Here in the place of expectation and disillusionment, confusion and truth, betrayal and redemption.

You are here, knowing the rough texture of your crowded city and hot, sweaty rooms. Dozens of us are here, squashed on the floor, sitting on each other’s feet—desperate for truth—a salve for the confusion of complex times and complicated needs.

Crash. Our startled faces look up. The small ceramic jar has forced silence and the heavy sweetness of nard mixes with the musk of bodies. The sacred and the profane, here, together. A joke dwindles and conversation dissolves into a sigh here, a grunt there. Muttering, murmuring, reasoning, rationalizing: hissed whispers that condemn. The volume climbs, until:

With no need to raise your voice, evenly, but then, with the falter of a man who has seen the person before him, with the falter of man who knows where this anointing leads:

‘Leave her alone. She has done a beautiful thing to me.’

Frustration and truth. Confusion and understanding

Do we have ears to hear?

Whispered plans. Money clinks. Did he meet their eyes when the final agreement was made? Did he feel nauseous? Did he know that tightness of the chest we feel in anger, indignation? But this is in the shadows.

The noonday sun sees the agitation of plans needing to be made: questions, instructions, the rust smelling blood in the streets, the charring of grilled lamb—roasting flesh. Acerbic herbs stain fingertips with smells that will last all evening.

You recline. Muscles relaxed by the breathing, talking, whispering of those who knew (or thought they knew) you best. Muscles tense at the thought of what is to come. Bowls clink, clank. Jaws work: eating, laughing, debating.

But then, rather suddenly, unexpectedly, at a time most right but most unpredictable, amidst the swallowing, the slurping—a most human of activities—grace is defined. Quietly and firmly:

‘One of you will betray me.’
‘This is my body, my blood.’ 

Sin and redemption. Betrayal and adoption. Rejection and love.

We are confused: sad, heavy questions trail off, one-by-one. A hymn is sung, haltingly. Understanding will come, but it is not present tonight.

One—we all know him—cannot leave the discomfort, that need to justify, and his emphatic insistence echoes the prophesied crowing. But grace is more insistent still.

Listen to the truth.

Listen to the voice of the God-Man. Listen to the voice of him who knows your humanity, who sees your sin. Listen to the suffering servant, the Passover lamb, the One who conquered death:

‘You will all fall away.’
‘But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you.’


One Response to “A Tenebrae Reflection”

  1. Vivian L. Hyatt said

    I like it a lot. It’s comforting, isn’t it, that statement “You will all fall away.” He knows us so well. But then,”After that…” Giving them hope in the same breath.

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