“Jesus was troubled in spirit.” He doesn’t say it, but they could see it on his face. The disciples were again confused and clueless, but they could tell. Jesus was troubled. He was sad and afraid, knowing he would be betrayed. Grieving the great loss and suffering to come, let alone at the hands of his friend, Jesus was troubled in spirit.
Remember Jesus on the storm-swept sea fast asleep in the bottom of the boat, exhausted from ministry. Remember Jesus greeting Mary and going to Lazarus’ tomb: “He was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.” Onlookers said, “See how Jesus loved him!” (1) Overcome with grief, Jesus wept for and with his closest friends. Troubled and grieving, Jesus was human. Jesus’ humanity—shown in sleep, in tears, and a troubled face—is hopeful and instructive for us in Holy Week as we reflect on his suffering and death.
Tonight we will gather for Tenebrae which means shadows. We are invited to be in the dark. Let the lights go out and feel the dark emotions: sadness, pain, fear, loss, abandonment. Let ourselves, our spirits, be troubled. Don’t switch on the lights. Don’t numb the pain, avoid reality, or turn to the next chapter too soon.
Linger in the shadows, with sorrow and pain of the world and of your heart. What catches your attention? What moves you? What do you feel? Let Holy Week disturb you. Let yourself be troubled. Stay with Jesus who was troubled for and is now troubled with you.
Linger in the shadows with Jesus.
- John 11:33-38
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