A MAN OF SORROWS
Bearing the burden of sin Nature tuned to His suffering The sun shrank its light, The earth trembled under it, The very stones cleaved in sunder. The face of Heaven blackened, The noon-day sun eclipsed, As that cry of triumph rang Holy Week is indeed a week of contemplation, deep contemplation as we try to experience within our own very being something of the aloneness and abandonment, the agony and anguish, the struggle and surrender, the obedience and offering, the prayer and patience, the terror and torment of our dear Lord in the context of His last week in Jerusalem. Traditionally this day is known as the “day of questions”. Yesterday was the day of cleansing, when Our Lord manifested that the Temple was essentially a place of prayer, not for social and business interaction. And to-morrow is known as “Spy Wednesday” when Judas arranged with the Chief Priests at an opportune time to betray His Master. By what authority do you teach? The priests and elders ask. I shall tell you Jesus says, If you answer a question for me, They murmured amongst themselves. He really has us cornered. The people will rise against us; Why did you not believe John. So they took the easy way out – We do not know, they replied.
Our Lord still speaks the same and other questions to us from His cross.
In the mediæval church during Holy Week the Passion would be presented dramatically. In this play the Cross spoke directly to the audience. This was not dissimilar to Lancelot Andrewes’ direction in his Passion sermons of the late 16th and early 17th centuries that we should view the cross until it pierces us with its meaning.
Look at me, I beg you, with all of your understanding, be not hard-hearted, for this reason: I was killed for the sake of your soul, cheated and betrayed by Judas’ treason, harshly treated, scourged with whips. The Jews threatened me, they grimaced, they laughed, they scorned me, condemned me to death, as you can see. But now I beg you, Search your soul and discover your sins that caused my death too – loyalty to another authority, thirst for power, craving for recognition, holding on to past injuries and I could go on. I wore a crown of sharp thorns on my head, So pained, so bruised, so sad, so bloodied. My body struck with blows and beatings My sore feet and hands bore the thick nails; Thus naked I am nailed, for your sake o man. I beg you to strip yourself of all vanity, pride and greed So that my death is not in vain. Can’t you see that my outstretched arms say, I love you. Can’t you love me in return? Why do you turn away? Wait! Turn back! Remember my tender heart is broken for you, My veins forced to crack with pain, tugged to and fro and wrapped in woe. Never was a man treated with such cruelty, like a lamb to the sacrifice. Truly, freely shedding my blood for you. What more could I suffer than I have done, O man for you? Come! Welcome gleefully my death And let my death give you life.
My version of “Wofully Araide” William Cornysh, jnr. 14thC.