Daily Gospel Reflection - 27 August 2011

Mark 14.43-52 CEB: Suddenly, while Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, came with a mob carrying swords and clubs. They had been sent by the chief priests, legal experts, and elders. His betrayer had given them a sign: “Arrest the man I kiss, and take him away under guard.”

As soon as he got there, Judas said to Jesus, “Rabbi!” Then he kissed him. Then they came and grabbed Jesus and arrested him.

One of the bystanders drew a sword and struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his ear. Jesus responded, “Have you come with swords and clubs to arrest me, like an outlaw? Day after day, I was with you, teaching in the temple, but you didn’t arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” And all his disciples left him and ran away. One young man, a disciple, was wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They grabbed him, but he left the linen cloth behind and ran away naked.

For me, the tension in this scene is off the chart! In the middle of night, with torches and swords and clubs, the mob swarmed in. You can just see Judas glowing. He finally succeeded where so many others had failed. He would force Jesus’ hand. I think that he believed whole-heartedly that when the mob went to arrest Jesus, he and the others would take up arms and (finally!) start their revolt against Rome. What happened next took him by complete surprise.

He kisses Jesus. The mob rushes him. One of the followers draws a sword to defend Jesus and slices off the ear of the high priest’s slave. ‘Here we go,’ I can imagine him thinking. ‘It’s all about to go down!’ And then...nothing.  In the other accounts of this story, Jesus rebukes Peter (he’s the one who assaulted Malchus, the high priest’s servant; John 18.10-11 CEB), the revolt stopped and all the followers of Jesus scattered. I’m sure as they were dragging Jesus away, Judas just stood there dumbfounded, not really sure what to think about it. Then, all the words and actions of Jesus came flooding back to him and he realized that Jesus was not going to revolt against Rome. Not in the way neither he nor his contemporaries were wanting. The way of peace was the way it was going to play out. That Jesus’ way of being was not what any of them were thinking.

I think the reaction of the other disciples is how we react a lot of the time to Jesus unwavering position on non-violence. It’s so far beyond our comprehension, perhaps imagination would be a better term, that we run away in the face of violence. We don’t yet know how to react to it. Our old way of seeing just doesn’t understand how hatred and violence are defeated with love and compassion.

Also, fear is such a strong motivator. I’m pretty sure that the disciples fled because they knew that if they couldn’t defend themselves with violence, they would be arrested, charged falsely, and crucified just like Jesus. The fear of losing one’s life, of losing our loved ones, is so powerful that even the disciples left Jesus to face this alone. But, Jesus said that if someone denies him, he would deny them before God (Matthew 10.33 CEB). Thankfully, Jesus is merciful. All of those whom denied him were not denied by him. He forgave them and asked God to do the same (Luke 23.34a CEB).

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br Jack+, LC


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