Linens, Clumsiness, and Discussions

As a kid, I was struck by this section in Mark’s Passion account:

Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked. (14:51-52)

Must be adolescent humor. But yesterday, I was drawn to this passage:

The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they found none. Many gave false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. Some took the stand and testified falsely against him, alleging, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands and within three days I will build another not made with hands.'” Even so their testimony did not agree. (14:55-59)

First I was struck by one aspect of evil: it’s clumsy. Maybe Judas’ betrayal came too soon for them. Or that lawyers’ testimony coaches hadn’t been invented yet. This kind of confusion is remarkably similar to institutional addictive behavior. Or perhaps, that evil so consistently misses the mark. So to speak. They grab for the “young man” but are left with only his clothes. They try to ensnare Jesus legally, but nobody agrees. Maybe they all had their own grudge.

When I hear the Passions readings, I’m always struck by a certain quality in the narrative. They always sound so different from the prose of the other parts of the Gospel. Do you know what I mean? Intellectually, I know I’m hearing the very oldest parts of the Gospel tradition, but my ears tell me something deeper’s going on.

A friend of mine related a story in which she picked up her young adult son after a car breakdown. She was on her way to Mass. Not seeing any reason to alter her Palm Sunday, she told him they were heading for church. I guess he didn’t have any choice about that. The other ttwo speakers got up and the priest invited the people to sit down.

“This isn’t the Mass with the reading that never ends, is it?” he asked.

I can’t offer any simmering insights on Palm Sunday. My parish enjoyed both good and bad moments over the weekend. My Saturday frustration was a birthdayt party booked for our parish hall, which meant the procession set-up had to be delayed while 7:30 Mass was going on upstairs. I also had a cantor singing a prelude just as Mass was scheduled to begin. It was rather innocent: watches not synchronized. But the clergy can be very antsy about timeliness when handling “the Mass with the reading that never ends.”

I found about twenty minutes to pray after the Seder Meal and before my two teen friends showed up to get ready for 5PM Mass. It was helpful. I have a few discussions in the days and weeks ahead with a few liturgy volunteers. They won’t be easy. At least one or two people will need to be phased out of current involvements. One or two people with higher potential need (I think) to ponder a change of approach in what they do. It’s time for our parish liturgy to make a move in some areas.

My only insight from the weekend was that I needed to spend a lot more time praying for them and about the upcoming discussions. My tendency is to “rehearse” these difficult talks, only to find my brain has moved far ahead of what the conversation really calls for. I’d be better off just praying about it, and trusting that good words will come.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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