Saturday 30 March 2013

The Kidron Valley

With the Temple wall in the background

Powerful moment, prostrating here on this ground, perhaps exactly where Jesus might have walked, and certainly not far from where he himself prostrated before the Father... in suffering and anguish and surrender. "He emptied himself..."

With the Church of Gethsemani in the background. Close by, on the left, is the Orthodox Church of the Dormition of Our Lady, and next to this church, caves or grottoes which might have been a familiar place for Jesus and his disciples for spending nights.

I presided at the Good Friday service of the Indian Konkani community here, and sang - or tried to sing - the Passion, which was written in the Kannada script. We had transliterated it into Roman script, and all seemed to be going well, but somewhere the note got lost, and so... But I have the impression that my mangalorean konkani has sort of ... improved.

All in all, quite moving to celebrate the Passion in the Kidron Valley, which is the first thing mentioned in the reading from John's gospel, and just in front of the Gethsemane where he prayed and was anguished and sweated till his sweat fell to the ground like drops of blood, where he complained to his disciples, who were sleeping, and where he surrendered to his Father.

Why was he so anguished? What made him terrified, so that the memory of it remains in the Letter to the Hebrews - "with loud cries and entreaties" - "he learned obedience through what he suffered"? Was it the pain? Was it the prospect of death? Is every human being terrified at the prospect of death, including Jesus? Or was it more, the mixture of the prospect of dreadful suffering, and death, and the fickleness of the crowds and of his closest friends, and betrayal, and just plain misunderstanding and miscomprehension and the stark fact that so few, perhaps no one, understood him, loved him enough to stand by him... "He came unto his own, and his own received him not."

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