The sapphire blue waves of the Galilee sparked in the bright morning sun as I settled myself on the soft dewy grass near its rocky shore. In a country that really has no end to its tourist season, I found myself mysteriously alone in the town of Capernaum. As I wandered aimlessly around the craggy ruins of the old synagogue I couldn’t help but feel disappointment hang from my shoulders like a moth-eaten shawl.
I had just come from the Chapel of the Beatitudes, a place that for nearly a year I had been blindly determined to visit not only because the Beatitudes are the bedrock of my spirituality but also because my mentor had his spiritual awakening there. In a sense it was a dual pilgrimage – a way in which to honor both of my teachers – and I’d expected to feel….well, something. Instead I felt nothing at all – I’d spent hours there and aside from the beauty of the place I felt no real connection, much like every religious landmark in that country. I was grumpily mulling this over as I watched the waves lap at my feet.
“Well, at least I’m here,” I thought to myself. It was here that Jesus began his public teachings, and I wanted to at least connect to that moment. So, like usual, I closed my eyes and imagined Jesus sitting next to me with my head on his shoulder. Rather than sinking into scripture, I surprised myself and embarked on a wholly new path that I hadn’t expected.
“What are we going to do?” Long ago I’d come to the understanding that bad things happen in the world not because God let’s them – we do – and I am long past the point of blaming God for all the wrongs of the world.
I received silence as a response, something so alien that it caused me to look around my meditative space; Jesus was not where I’d left him. No, he was in my arms ..
Broken. Bleeding. Dead.
I inhaled sharply in shock – I’d never mediated on this depiction of Christ before, and I realized all too quickly that I’d lost control of the mediation and was being taken somewhere outside of my own realm. The mental visuals were incredibly vivid; I could feel the slight weight of his frail, wasted body – a wrung out rag – in the bowl of my lap. Blood coated my hands, chest and arms and was smeared even on my face. I felt panic rise in my chest, and before I could stop myself if bubbled over into hot tears.
My mind filled with the images of the varied forms of oppression that I’d seen so far on this trip; water restrictions, restriction of movement, home demolitions, tear gas, rubber bullets, children beaten and arrested…. and I couldn’t help but think of the broken body of Christ.
It was then that my meditation had been taken out of my hands so as to answer my question, ‘What do we do?’
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, spoke a blessing and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, gave thanks and gave it to them,saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
I’ve said it before, my friends and I still hold firmly to it – we are to break ourselves and bleed for out brothers and sisters because we love them. Because Christ commanded us to…because he did it for us.