On Palm Sunday, during the reading of the Passion narrative according to St. Mark, we heard this passage which occurs right after the arrest of Jesus;
“There was a young man following him who was covered by nothing but a linen cloth. As they seized him he left the cloth behind and ran off naked.” -14:51-52
Some Scripture scholars believe that this was Mark himself, admitting anonymously, that he too, was one of the disciples who fled for his life while his Master was being bound and taken away. Regardless of who it was, this passage, found only in Mark, has relevance for you and me, even if at first glance it seems to be an almost comical aside in the otherwise solemn Passion narrative.
Have you ever felt naked?
Have the troubles of life ever left you feeling stripped …devoid of the comforts, coping mechanisms, and other things that usually serve to “cover you?”
I certainly have. At certain phases of my life, the cold winds of suffering have cut though me as if I were left without a stitch of clothing, exposed in a hurricane. During those times, all I had left to give me hope, to cover me, was the presence of God.
During my performance, “A Visit with St. Paul,” I speak words that the apostle might have said;
“When I am feeling weak or tempted, and I often feel weak and tempted, I go to the Cross of Christ. In my mind’s eye, I go to Calvary and I kneel before the Crucified One, gazing up at his bleeding, wounded body. I can almost imagine some of his blood splattering my face. I spend time with him and I thank Him for taking my sins and weakness upon Himself at such a great cost.”
I continue with passion as I imagine Paul would;
“Whenever I do this, I always come away strengthened and renewed. I even find myself rejoicing in His love… for this too, is a way to share in the joy and power of the Resurrection.”
Quoting from his first letter to the Corinthians, I proclaim;
“Therefore, I want to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” -2:2
Though no images depict him this way, Jesus was naked on the Cross. The Romans had no interest in preserving the dignity of the condemned. Paul knew this. When, like his Savior, he felt “naked” he found a way to become “clothed.” In his letter to the Colossians, the Great Apostle exhorted the faithful;
“Because you are God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience… Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you… Over all these virtues, put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect.” -3:12-14
This week, we have the opportunity once again with fellow Christians around the world to “go to Calvary.” As believers, we’ll contemplate what Jesus endured and just what significance this has for our lives. When the Easter alleluias ring out in our churches and in our hearts, we will “put on garments” that the world could never provide. Among these will be a profound peace and a joy that lasts forever.
Though at times, like the young man in Mark’s Gospel we may “run away naked,” we can pray in faith for “new garments.”
“Risen Lord, thank you for enduring nakedness and agony on Your Cross. Please help us always to look to you. In Your mercy, tenderly cover our nakedness with Your truth and beauty.”
For reports of four recent performances of “A Visit with St. Paul,” please go to that page. There is also a schedule of upcoming events, including our upcoming trip to Texas.
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