Tuesday of Holy Week

‘Now has the Son of Man been glorified.’ This is his response to the moment when his fate is sealed and one of his close disciples, ‘filled with Satan’, leaves the common table to betray him.

The act of personal treachery hangs strangely loose in the story without explanation. No one is convinced he did it just for money. Inexplicably it seems necessary because it brings the main player to his supreme moment.

We speak of glory in battle, glorious weather and the glory of God. But what is this kind of glory that happens at a moment of defeat and disappointment. When someone in whom we have placed our trust or hope lets us down or when a plan we have been working on collapses it seems an odd time to speak of glory.

When you open a fresh scallop it firmly resists you. It clams its shell tight against the probing knife you are trying to slip between the two hinged halves of its protecting world. The art of this cruel act, without which there would be no scallop farmers, is to find the muscle that holds it closed and slice through it. Then the shell springs open, the luscious looking food is there and the food chain continues.

We prefer not to see this done or to hear of it but it is part of the world we inhabit. The ending of a life is the feeding of another in the chain of being. One should acknowledge the individual sacrifice and feel the loss of life as some native Americans are said to thank a tree before they cut it down.

If the end of a life is accepted in this humble way it is as if something opens. The dark side of it is the shadow cast by the intense light that has been released.

Laurence Freeman OSB