Comforting those in pain: 12 March 2015

Da Vinci’s Last Supper was copied and adapted for several refectories. This is Andrea del Sarto’s fresco in the former refectory at the monastery of San Salvi in Florence and is one such adaptation.  Andrea’s painting is more human and touching.  A charming addition is the two servants conversing in the central window.

John 13 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’ 25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ 26 Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.

James 2 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself,’ you are doing right. 9 But if you show favouritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as law-breakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘You shall not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a law-breaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Although we do not generally remember this, Judas had a father named Simon. He might have been dead by the time Good Friday occurred, but what if he was not? What if he was still alive that fatal Passover weekend? Did he weep to think what a horrible part his son was playing in the crucifixion of an innocent man? Judas complicated his treachery by committing suicide. Can these two horrible events, folding over on one another as they did, not have sent his father Simon into an impossible season of sorrow?

Of course, we cannot really know how the elder Iscariot dealt with all of this. Remember that Jesus, three years earlier in the Nazarene synagogue, said that he had come to comfort the mourning. Jesus counselled us also to reach out to the hurting. So Jesus must have reached out to Judas. If he had the chance, he may have also reached out to his parents. Judas would never taste that Easter joy. The grief of all those friends who would have helped him from time to time to repair his life would never be to do so.

Let us watch for those all around us whose children live and die in disgrace and who wait for our comfort. Performing this kind of compassionate service could be your living legacy this very Easter. Be alert.

Lord, you came to comfort those who have had to live with shattering disappointments. We cannot fix all circumstance or dry all tears. But not to care is a great sin. Open my eyes to those around me who are in need of your tender love . . . and could perhaps feel it in my caring.