New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
47 While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?” 49 When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?”50 Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!”
I broke down crying in the middle of a prayer trying to share Jesus’ message of “No more of this” in light of the tragedy at Sandy Hook. The sobbing was so deep that it was apparent to everyone that it was not just for my own sadness over what happened, but more so I was the weakest link at that moment of collective pain. Our associate pastor had just delivered a powerful sermon on the collective broken heart and the profound need for the honoring of a mother’s love in this time in human history. She further expounded on the biblical Mary and her role in the receiving of the Christ into this world She encouraged us all to look for the Mary within us that can surrender to the will of God in whatever circumstances we find ourselves so that we too can birth Christ into the world. She reminded us of the Christian story that while the world anticipated one with the Spirit of the embodied Christ, God revealed that One in the unlikeliest of situations–in the womb of an unwed (teen) mother giving birth among the animals in a manger. If it could be that Mary, it could be anyone of us willing, as she was to say, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Like mother like son.
As I listened, I looked out at my own daughter and tried to look at her with a mother’s heart. I did my best to imagine being in Mary’s shoes–knowing that her child was not her own. Her child belonged to all of creation. And I wondered if when she said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word,” if she had any indication that the worst thing that would ever happen to her was watching her innocent first born son die. How painful was it for her to know that this child had come specifically to be a healing for this world and yet he was murdered? And if even Jesus, who believed that he was living in accordance with God’s will, felt forsaken on the cross, how much more forsaken could Mary have possibly felt when for all she knew on that fateful she was going to have to live the rest of her life with the grief and trauma of watching what happened to her son. I’m telling you that I would go slap crazy. I could not do it. It hurts me when my daughter scrapes her knee. If you are a parent, you understand. And I think the entire congregation understood in a way that none of us have ever understood before. But none of us understands more than those parents who have had to endure pains precipitated by events like Sandy Hook. They are our Marys right now. And their children are our Christs. For didn’t Jesus say whatever is done to children is done to him?
I profess that I will not allow the power of darkness to seduce me from the light of Christ revealed in these children. I know that there are many of us who will cry today and be back to business as usual tomorrow. I am not condemning that. But I cannot do it. Sandy Hook revealed more to me about the work and power of Jesus and Mary than hearing 10,000 sermons, a lifetime in church, 20 years of meditation and contemplation, and all the books in the world. When I heard the news, the first thought I had was, “No more of this.” Suddenly the words were illumined like never before. In my mind’s eye I saw Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane praying not just for himself. The cup that he wanted to pass was not just for his impending death on the Cross, but it was also for the children and faculty of Sandy Hook Elementary, their parents, and everyone else consciously effected by this tragedy. It was for those lost to wars and other senseless violence. It was for those of us with low self esteem that result in us harming others as we harm ourselves. It was for people convinced that money will solve all of their problems. It was for cowards who run off when their friends are in trouble. It was for mothers and fathers who mourn for their children. It was for those of us whose hearts hurt at the pain of the world, but feel too helpless to do anything. It was for me and for you. For those who believe and those who do not. For people that had been, were, and will be. For life. For love. He prayed this and then when the darkness came for him, he turned his back on it and entered into the light healing one of his captors and forgiving his accusers and murderers along the way. “No more of this,” he said to all of Creation. “We are better than this. We are One.” And he surrendered in a way that many of us would see as completely unbecoming of a hero, but fitting of One who knows the love of a parent who would give their life if there was any chance it meant a better life for their children.