Jesus is captured today in Mark's Gospel. Captured by those who for a multiplicity of reasons wanted him to stop what he was doing. They wanted him to stop changing the status quo. They wanted him to stop attracting followers, taking them away from their usual places of learning and worship. They wanted him to fit into their society's culture and follow the rules and regulations that had been promulgated and been the foundation of their society for hundreds and hundreds of years. They wanted to not be afraid of what he was doing.
Those individuals who came to capture him were afraid: they came armed, and en-masse, and at night to take him. All things indicative of a lack of confidence in what they were doing. The disciples that surrounded him that night fled in fear. An unidentified young man, who had come out to see Jesus wrapped only in a linen cloth, fled naked when he was grabbed and struggled free from the cloth covering him. Such fright all around us in today's Gospel selection.
And at the center of all of this is the calm figure of Jesus. He prayed and pled to God to lift this burden off him in yesterday's selection. But that prayer was not answered in the fashion for which he asked. But that prayerfulness, I believe, helped provide him with the that center of strength necessary to be that calm in the eye of a swirling storm we see today.
Whatever we are dealing with in our lives today, fear quite often is lurking just around the corner. Whether we are facing high winds, rain, surging tides, buildings collapsing or damaged because of earthquakes, we need to remember the efficacy of prayer and the model Jesus sets for us today, which will aid us when fear is no longer lurking but ever present. Perhaps we are immersed in fear of all the difficulties associated with unemployment, or the loss of a relationship, or the death of a loved one: Jesus' calm presence and our ability to find peace in prayer can help us at those moments.
No matter what we face in life, Jesus' calm presence in the face of imminent torture and death can and will help us. For on the other side of those challenges, which can be fodder for fear, is the promise of resurrection and new life, all grounded in God's vast and great love for each one of us.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Allie Charging, jfd+ 2008