[a 3 minute read]
For some, although not for those front line workers whose jobs are so essential, life seems to have slowed down. Some, of course, are left spinning or climbing the walls at home, and for those whose home isn’t always a safe or pleasant place to be, their sadness and difficulties are deepened. For most of us, we have temporarily lost so much of what we took for granted. Such simple things are asked of us now: stay home, save lives. Everything else seems to be out of our control.
In Alan Bennet’s film and stage play ‘The Madness of King George’ there is a sad and moving scene when the King is chased around his home by a bunch of heavies and all at the direction of his doctor. The king has lost his mind, you see, and with his lost mind has gone his dignity too. They tie him to a chair as he pitifully whimpers, ‘But I am the King.’ ‘No Sir,’ replies the doctor, ‘You are the patient.’ As we begin these days in a very different way this year, and move more deeply into the paschal mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection, we see Jesus our King, the one through whom the world was made, appearing to become the patient, the one who has things done to him.
And yet the Jesus portrayed in the gospel according to John is a Jesus very much in control of what’s happening. When he is arrested in the garden, he tells Peter to put his sword away, ‘Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?’ When he is questioned by Pilate, he tells him ‘You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above.’ And here, as the night kicks off, he hosts a meal of momentous proportions. He gives the gift of himself, and a means through which today we receive the benefits of his saving death. He rises from table to wash his disciples feet, much to Peter’s objection. He gives an example of how to serve, how to live, how to love. In the garden, he struggles with what is to come, wishes it away, but all the time he follows the will of the Father. The difference for our King and the madness of his love is that he has not lost his mind. He hands himself over to death, bravely, willingly, lovingly. ‘The Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,’ says St Paul, ‘but for those of us who are saved it is the power of God.’ So, wherever you are, whoever you’re with, however all of this is playing out for you, may you draw close to the cross of Christ, and experience afresh the power of his love.