A Busy Day
You awoke today just a few miles from the city, in the village of Bethany, near the home of your friends Mary and Martha, and their father Lazarus. You could have stayed with them, as you had so many times before, but you chose to spend last night in the relative discomfort of Simon’s little hovel on the edge of the village. Simon, that simple saint, who still bears the marks of the leprosy that once ravaged him … Simon was so happy to repay your healing love with what hospitality he could muster. The others prefer the comfortable pillows and hot food at Mary and Martha’s place, but as usual they have much to learn.
You’ve just sent a group of them off to see the man you dreamed about. They looked dubious, but you’ve never been wrong about these things (even though they keep expecting it to happen). In fact, you’ve never even missed a detail, no matter how small. The man will be there, and the room above his shop will be just right, with plenty of table space and seating for a proper Seder. And it will be located adjacent to that lovely grove with its winding paths and spectacular views of the Temple.
You rest your back against the low lip of a well, your legs warming in the sun, your face shaded from the glare by a nearby carob bush. What a busy day today will be. Soon, you will perform your morning ablutions for the last time. Then you will marshal the remnant of your followers for the brief walk into the city. Later, you will preside over the meal, and the words of blessing you offer will both console and confuse your friends. Finally, they will understand (or, at least, they will think they understand) what you meant when you said, “my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” But the mysterious disappearance of one of them will disturb and frighten the others, especially after you speak so darkly of memory and betrayal.
When the meal is concluded, you’ll lead the group out into that beautiful grove. Kephas, as he always does, will move in close to pledge his love and loyalty. Your response will leave him stunned and muttering as he slips off to sleep under a fig tree. Soon, they will all join him in sleep, even as you stroll alone down the path. Near a small, thorny bush the reality of the moment, of what comes next, will crash down upon you like a tidal wave. Wracked with fear, your body heaving, you will fall to your hands and knees and pray for deliverance; but with every entreaty the certainty – the necessity – of what you must do will become clearer and clearer. Your will, which once called the universe itself into existence, will wash away with your thick, viscous tears, dissolving into the will of your Father. When the moment has passed and the fear subsides, you will awaken your friends and turn to face the jangling, angry crowd making its way up from the Kidron Valley.
Yes, it will be a busy day. But right now, the sun feels good and you can feel your robe, moist from the early morning air, begin to stiffen. You think about your mother and the simple years in Nazareth, years that passed so slowly, and too soon. From somewhere you pick up the smoky scent of meat grilling. A rock pigeon gurgles softly nearby, as if to console you. But at this moment, you need no consolation. You think of Simon, his need, his joy, and his gratitude. You think of Simon the Leper and you are overcome with love for him … for all of them.
“We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”