To familiarize myself with the three passages that comprise today’s Lectionary readings, I read them out loud. Immediately I recognized a dramatic quality to the writing. This is a three act play, I thought to myself, a trailer of sorts for what is to come during Holy Week. These texts convey essential truths about God, God’s love, and Jesus’ identity. I wonder if this playlet allows us to experience these truths in such a way that they become imprinted on our hearts, an imprint that will remain even as the upheaval and trauma of the Passion will shake our souls.
Act I, Wisdom
Setting: a place where “Short and sorrowful is our life”
A group of civic and/or religious leaders “reason unsoundly to themselves”
They discuss a “righteous man” who offends, confounds, and challenges them. “He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord.” They want him gone, because “his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange.” Insult and torture are weighed as options of dealing with him before it is decided to “condemn him to a shameful death.”
Then it’s as if another character, a Greek chorus of sorts, turns to the audience, walks to the front of the stage, and comments, “Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray . . . . they did not know the secret purposes of God.” Secret purpose? “God created us for incorruption, and made us in the image of his own eternity.” Failure to acknowledge these purposes results in a life that is indeed “short and sorrowful.”
Act II, Psalm 34
Setting: the Lord’s line of sight
Someone sings a short ballad about the Lord’s eyes and face always being upon the righteous, that the Lord is near the brokenhearted and those with crushed spirits, that the Lord “ransoms the life of his servants.”
Act III, John
Setting: Galilee during the Festival of Booths
Jesus is in Galilee rather than Judea because “the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him.” He attends the festival in secret.
A group of people from Jerusalem notice Jesus and start speculating about who he is and where he is from. Jesus stops what he’s doing and cries out, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
The final scene is paradoxical: they try to arrest Jesus—“but no one laid hands on him”
“because his hour had not yet come.”
To be continued.
Links to the appointed readings and prayer for today: