Maunday Thursday

Book Cover

Book Cover

The night of Christ’s betrayal begins with an upper-room feast. Accompanied by the hollow clunk of pottery dishes stacked hurriedly for washing, and surrounded by the pungent odors of roasting lamb, bitter herbs, and baking bread, a covey of men look to their leader. One follower wonders when Jesus will make His move: Passover is a perfect occasion for rallying the crowds against Rome. Another one fantasizes about His position in the new regime. A third congratulates himself for being the first to recognize their rabbi as the Messiah. One man fingers the silver coins in His hip purse.

Jesus motions them to silence, then looks each one dead in the eye and says, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffer.”

And so we return to the night of Christ’s betrayal. Sitting at table with the twelve, serving them His body and blood, Jesus knew their hearts. He knew Peter, all bluster and bragging, would deny him before Friday’s dawn. He knew Judas had already spun a web of intrigue that would trap and kill them both. Yet He said, “I have eagerly desired to celebrate this meal with you.” Jesus wanted these men with Him. Did they understand what was in His mind? No. But they could, even with their limitations, accompany Him. As a human, Jesus needed human touch. He asked them to wait in the garden, to keep vigil through the night. Not to leave Him alone.

I, too, knew the desolation of aloneness. While the Night’s agonies were upon me, I spoke to few people; its intimacy and mystery drove me to silence. But, in addition to my husband, David, I did share with two women, both skilled in spiritual direction. Responding to my expressions of loneliness and confusion, one of them said simply, “I’d say I was sorry if I didn’t know the result.” Her discerning response fortified my parched soul with a taste of hope.

 

When God Walks Away: A Dark Night Companion excerpt

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