Written for the service of Holy Thursday 2011, at the French Church in Berne
Lecture, Marc 14, 32-36
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
This cup will not be removed.
I believe, Jesus, that you had foreseen this from the very beginning of your mission. With all your being you were searching for a way to free your people from their suffering. When the devil offered you a seemingly perfect means – the power over all the kingdoms of the world – you were truly tempted. But after thinking it through, you realised that the Kingdom of God could never be forced upon human beings, created in the image of God and thus destined for freedom. You would indeed have bowed to the devil, had you accepted. Without riches nor power you set out to accomplish your mission.
Now, barely three years later, you have been recognising for a while already, that the time has come. The crowds have started to see in you the Messias, impatiently awaited to free them from the yoke of the roman empire.
You entered Jerusalem the first day of this week, riding not a horse, worthy of a king, but a young donkey, worthy of you, the Son of Man. You have known for a long time that you will not fulfill the expectations of those who worship you. They will be disappointed, they will abandon you and betray you, even those close to you.
I see you imploring your father : « Abba, all things are possible for you. » You could flee, or hide. But you know that this would allow a usurper to do in your name what the people expect from their Messias. You have no choice.
You will do the will of your father. You will be crucified, and the same crowds who had come to worship you will deride you. Your death will traumatise your people and all of humanity for centuries to come.
But you will send us the Holy Spirit on Pentacost, to console us, to kindle and feed the flame of our desire to continue your mission –a burning desire to do all we can so that the Kingdom of God will become more and more manifest – down here on this earth, through our laws, through our economic transactions, through our relationships and our actions.
In this world of Cesar we need human power to keep evil within limits. But the Kingdom of God is founded on love, freedom, trust, understanding and a strong will to do the will of God.