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The Face of the Beloved – Br. Mark Brown

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A kind man tenderly—O, so tenderly—takes the body from the cross and places it in the tomb. A stone is rolled against the door. The women were witness to these things. We join them in their stunned silence, in their disorientation. It is too much to take in.  How did we get here?  We stand here with these women, but how did we get here?  How did they get here?  Where will they go now?  Where shall we?

We stand gaping, dumbstruck, the music still echoing in our ears.  All glory, laud and honor…Hosanna in the highest. The bitter words still stinging our lips: Crucify him! Crucify him! (Crucify him?)  Nails, cries of agony and moans of anguish.  The piercing ululations of Semite women.

How did we get here?  Here, standing here, with these women before the cross—before the Heart of All Compassion—hidden, for now, in his tomb.

A woman remembers.  She remembers the wizened old prophet’s words in a place not very far from here: and a sword will pierce your own soul too. [Luke 2:35]  A sword will pierce your own soul too. Our souls, our hearts are pierced.

We know this is not the end of the story, but now we stand here, a sword piercing our souls.  What effluence of the heart will be let loose by this sword?  What fountain, what stream, what life-giving stream unleashed in our own hearts?

The river that flows out of Eden to water the garden [Gen. 2:10].  The crystal tide of the Heavenly Jerusalem [Rev. 22:1].  The river that makes glad the city of God [Psalm 46:5].  The brook, the water brook that the deer longs for [Psalm 42:1].  The gentle rain that waters the earth: bringing forth life and giving growth, seed for sowing and bread for eating. [Isaiah 55:9]  The deep well of All Compassion, the spring of living water gushing up to all eternity [John 4:14].  The river of life, buried, for now, in his tomb.

The Heart of All Compassion: the mighty ocean that inundates all eternity.  All time, all space.  And whatever is beyond all time and all space.

We stand here with these women and a kind man from a place we’ve never heard of.  We stand before a cross.  And yonder, in his tomb, is the great and wide sea with its living things too many to number. [Psalm 104:26] We stand before the mighty ocean, the great and wide sea of All Compassion.

His Sacred Heart is our heart and the heart of all hearts.  And today all hearts are pierced with a sword.  Just as old Simeon said they would.  Let it be.  Let it be for now.  For now, let it be so.

And yet, even now, even in this primeval now, as on that day before the first day, the Spirit hovers over the face of the deep.  The breath of God sweeps tenderly—O, so tenderly–over the face of the beloved. [Gen. 1:2]

© 2009

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