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Archive for March 13th, 2020


Friday, March 13, 2020

Mark 15:39: The Soldier

Roman_Centurion[1]We continue our journey reflecting on the figures who accompanied Jesus in his last hours as a human and today we focus on the centurion who witnessed the death of the Messiah.  Scholars argue and present opposing theories regarding the soldier’s statement: Truly this man was the son of God.  We might want to research the etymology of words or the development of thinking, or we might want to sit with this verse in a quiet spot today but at some point we must ask ourselves to consider this question . . . How do we react when the structure in which we participate – and from which we earn our daily bread – is questioned or challenged?  And what do we say or do when we suddenly see that there are alternate ways to perceive a series of incidents.  Was this soldier surprised by Christ’s patience, by his fidelity, by his compassion for those who died with him and his mercy for those who condemned and crucified him?  Was this man struck by the loyalty of the women and the one lone apostle who waited through the agonizing hours of Jesus’ death as the sky darkened?  Did he know that devout Jews like Joseph of Arimathea and the Pharisee Nicodemus were already mourning the loss of this miraculous man?  Did he know that Jesus had been identified to authorities by one of the twelve who followed him?  Was this centurion one of those who beat Jesus? Did he help to fashion the crown of thorns?  Did he barter for the robe that was so finely woven the soldiers decided to leave it whole?

Something remarkable must have been said.  Some change in this soldier must have been evident.  Some expression, some gesture, some evocation of emotion must have betrayed his calm control and shaken his beliefs because Mark records a reaction and two thousand years later we still argue about the meaning of the words he spoke in that agonizing, dreadful, ghastly moment.

And once we consider all of this it is time to turn to ourselves and ask . . . How do we react when the structure in which we participate – and from which we earn our daily bread – is questioned or challenged?  Are we open to the reality before us or do we buy into the one our superiors give to us?  Are we able to see the world without blinders or do we insist on our own narrow interpretation?  Do we ask for and witness to truth or are we sucked in by rampant gossip and self-serving safety nets?

Lent is the time of year when we are asked to put ourselves into the Passion story.  Today we contemplate the centurion at the foot of the cross and we consider . . . how we react when the structure in which we participate – and from which we earn our daily bread – is questioned or challenged.

Do we see ourselves as the conqueror or the conquered?  Do we believe we hold power over all or do we concede that true power lies in and with God?  Do we respond authentically to genuine mercy and true justice?  Do we witness with honesty to Christ and respond to Christ’s call?

Today we consider the kingdom and our place in it . . . and we spend time with this Roman soldier.


Image from: http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/927/Love_Unlimited___6th_Sunday_of_Easter.html

A re-post from March 13, 2013.

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