Today I always listen to "Stabat Mater Dolorosa" ("Sorrowful Mother Standing").
The solemnity an' sorrow is so profound: the Mother who could not leave her Son alone on the cross--who endured a soul shattering spectacle as the vulgar soldiers cast lots for His clothing an' jeered at them. The hymn has inspired Hadyn, Vivaldi, Palestrina, Dvorak and others to write their own versions. This small section is from Palestrina:
Holy Thursday / Tenebrae
John 13: 1-17
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
These poignant verses illustrate the love that Christ has for His people---a love that beckons, not a conquering command.
Tenebrae means "shadows" or "darkness." Many Christian traditions still include a Tenebrae service at the close of the Holy Thursday, or, more properly, at Matins
(shortly after midnight). It is a time of mourning, lamentation--a sorrowful inward examination of our own failures, a lament for the suffering of Christ. Since the 5th century churches have extinguished the candles during Tenebrae--a gesture rich symbol: Jesus is the Light of the world, but where the Light is betrayed, darkness overtakes us.
You can hear a short selection of the classical Tenebrae music here.
In the gospels it is during the Last Supper that Judas departs on his errand of betrayal. It was not a sudden decision. Weeks before this passage for Holy Thursday, Judas' heart was growing cold. At the discourse on the Bread of Life (John 6:70) Jesus indicates that one of the twelve has already turned against him. The betrayal is completed on the night that Christ again teaches them that He is the Bread of Life. One can have some sympathy--perhaps--for Judas; he had hoped for a military king who'd kick out the Roman oppressors. But what profit is there in any new king/ military coup if one's own heart remains corrupt; flaccid hearts incapable of sacrificial love? Would /could society be any different unless we ourselves are changed?
Caravaggio's "Taking of Christ" when Judas betrays Jesus with the kiss of friendship.
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