Having bought a linen cloth, [Joseph of Aramathea] took [Jesus] down, wrapped him in the linen cloth, and laid him in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb. Mark 15:46
The story of Jesus’ Passion is deeply distressing with its matter-of-fact narration of the human experiences of rejection, betrayal, abandonment, injustice, cruelty, mockery, bullying, abuse, pain, and suffering.
And yet… and yet it ends with caring and tenderness as Joseph of Aramathea removes Jesus’ body from the cross, wraps it gently in fine linen, and lays it to rest.
It seems to me that compassion and kindness will always be the last words in our human story.
Lord, help me to reach out with your tender careto those who are suffering and in need.
“Do not forget the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery; who guided you through the vast and terrible desert with its saraph serpents and scorpions, its parched and waterless ground; who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock and fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers.” Deuteronomy 8:14b-16a
It is God who leads me through and out of the dark, arid, despairing times. The kindness of people who listen to me, encourage me, and feed me with their love and compassion are God-reminders of Who is in charge.
Philip Galle (1537-1612) after Jan van der Straet The Meeting of the Apostles and the Women in the Upper Room engraving National Gallery of Art
Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks. Psalm 27:7-8
There are so many people to pray for, so many people who are ill, suffering, lonely, afraid, or abused. People who are locked down in nursing homes because of the COVID-19 virus. People who have lost their homes and have become refugees. People who are fleeing unjust and unsafe regimes and are seeking asylum in new countries. People who are being trafficked and sold into slavery. People who have no one to pray for them.
Today I will remember to pray. I will ask the Lord to hear me as I pray for those in need in our fragile, troubled world.