And it was night. Jn13:30 There is a chill that grips the heart as one reads those three words.
Judas moves into the shadows to betray his Master, His Lord.
As he closes the door of the upper room, he shuts fast the door of his heart to God’s mercy and grace. As he moves from light to darkness he seals his descison with that terrible kiss of betrayal.
The evil one has done his work, in those early hours of the morning, in the night, under the cover of darkness. Conniving, orchestrating, his lying lips pressed against the ears of those in his power, whispering fear, whispering hate.
The evil one has done his work. Jesus: falsely charged and cruelly driven before his captors to that dreadful place of execution.
Jesus: fastened to that tree of torture by Love, it is Love that holds Him fast on that tree of death.
Hate has done it’s work, now Love will show His power.
Love in vulnerability has shattered those bonds that hate holds hostage.
It is finished. Jn 19:30 The Sacrifice complete, mankind is freed from that curse of old. Love’s work is done.
The chant below (see bottom of post) is the Benedictus antiphon from Tenebrae for Maundy Thursday. I wanted to share it, not because of the chant itself, which is beautifully sung, but because the words really struck me when I saw them last night: Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying: Whom I shall kiss, that same is he; hold him fast.
Hold him fast. There are different ways we can hold God. When I hear these words I think of clinging to God, an act of faith, made out of desperation sometimes, but grasping Him firmly because He is your last and only hope. We can hold God like a lover, like a life-preserver, like a friend. But here we see another way to hold him, which has nothing to do with love or devotion: we can hold him fast like a hostage. Our weak faith, our lack of trust in God, our obstinacy in getting our own way, all these tempt us to hold God prisoner. If I can just get a good grip on Him, I’ll get him to see things my way. But we can’t control God or bend Him to our will; it’s fruitless and destructive.
Rather than holding God captive there is a better way: we can let our souls be held captive by Him; to become captivated by His insatiable and enduring love for us – the Love that sustains all other loves, and which led Him to submit Himself to the grasp of sinners.
Tonight, after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, our Lord will go to the Mount of Olives to meet Judas, and each of us will accompany Him as His Passion begins. He who holds all creation in the palm of His hand willingly gives Himself into the hands of wicked men. As the deepest mysteries of our salvation begin to unfold, let us comfort and console Our Lord by giving ourselves over to Him completely, by letting Him hold us fast.