The Apostle’s Diary
The Apostle’s Diary
By John Mallon
A Meditation for the Easter Triduum, Written in 1981
Thursday: The Master said many strange things at dinner tonight, He was calm but seemed troubled; He spoke of death and betrayal and of the future, and this was very frightening to us all. He insisted on washing our feet, claiming that the greatest among us should be the least. He also gave us bread and wine, calling it his body and blood, and this was very mysterious. After three years with him I have come to expect the unusual from him, but still he never ceases to amaze or astonish me. I wish I could understand...
Later He asked us to go and pray with him, and be with Him... He really seemed to need us as never before, and this was strange... when He left us to pray alone, our minds and hearts were exhausted from all that had occurred and was said during dinner, and we fell asleep. Will I ever forget my shame; not once, but twice, he found us asleep after He asked for our help. The disappointment in his face and words; yet the understanding in his eyes caused me to weep. I had never seen him look so bad. Clearly he had been weeping, and, evidently, harder than I had ever known anyone to week... There were traces of blood on his face as if it had oozed from his pores from suffering. To see the Master in such a state shook us profoundly. He admonished us to pray for ourselves; But, always, in his eyes... that understanding... The second time he was drained but seemed to possess that peace that follows suffering; a resolve, and we felt shame, for we let him down.
When the soldiers came we tried to make up for our shame with a show of bravado, but Jesus would have none of it. Peter lunged forward and cut off the ear of one of their group. I shall never forget the look on the man’s face when Jesus touched him and restored his ear. It is hard to recall in the confusion, but I think the man wandered off in puzzlement and wonder... Jesus is amazing, When he asked the men who they had come for, and they told him, Jesus said “I am He” and they all fell down! Fell down, as if some great invisible stone had knocked them over! ...Anyway, it was Judas the Lord spoke of at dinner as the one who would betray him. I think we all felt a moment of relief that it wasn’t us, but afterwards we weren’t so sure... It was not a night for complacency. And we scattered like rats deserting our Lord.
Friday: They crucified Jesus. He was our friend and we left him alone, running like frightened animals. I saw him on the cross, and I know He saw me as I cowered, and amid the pain and blood that lined his face, there, in his eyes, was that same understanding... He was much too good for us...
Nature itself seemed to be outraged, and rightly so, that men, we men, the chosen of all living things on the Earth could behave so badly. The message was clear to me, as I’m sure it was to the others. I could feel no difference between myself and the men who pounded the very nails. Having expressed itself, the sky went from black to gray, and the Earth calmed somewhat at the end of the third hour. Our terror and shame gave way to a sad numbness as some of us joined the women to take Jesus down and take him to the tomb. I can no longer write, I am falling asleep...
Saturday: Oh wretched day. Numbness has turned to grief, more shame, and desolation. The Master is dead. He that gave us so much light was deserted by us in his moment of darkness. I think I feel sorriest for Peter. He showed up this morning looking wretched with grief, God knows where he spent the night; I fear it was in the streets, falling in alleys and gutters weeping and retching. Sometimes he’ll weep in silence, then howl, and cry on the name of the Lord to forgive him. He shrieks through his tears and mucous something about having betrayed Jesus and often convulses with cries of “Please forgive me.” My pity for him is the only thing that takes my mind off my own sadness.
He cannot look at the rest of us, as though he thinks we must despise him; but we don’t, we understand. We all have trouble looking at each other, and none of us speak. In our hearts none of us can even condemn Judas because of our own shame. We all feel responsible for what happened to Jesus, but not simply because of whatever weakness or cowardice we may have shown, but somehow, in some strange way, just because we are men; It somehow seems bigger than just us...
The women amaze me; Peter was so bad that they finally went to attend him. He seemed to be inconsolable, but I heard Jesus’s mother, while she and Mary M. were trying to soothe him, say that Jesus even begged God’s forgiveness for the soldiers and officials while he was hanging on the cross. Peter wept even more at hearing this, but not for his own shame, but for the goodness of Jesus and his mercy. This caused me to weep too...
Last night I fell asleep from sheer exhaustion while writing. I can only pray that sleep will be as merciful tonight as I look to the end of this long, long day that has already been much too long, and it is only afternoon...
At least Peter has drifted off thanks to Mary and Mary. Peter must have loved Jesus very much. Jesus’s Mother... she attends to us when it is we who should be attending to her, but instead we sit in silence alone with our thoughts and grief. She doesn’t seem to mind, she seems to understand... Like Jesus.
Sunday Morning: How odd. I have never seen such a glorious morning. It gives a sense of peace; as nature seemed to scold us on Friday, It seems now to embrace us as never before, All creation seems to sing with love. It calls me, I must go for a walk into this strange new day...
Hey! Get up! Wake up!
The Lord is up! He is risen!
We should have known
They couldn’t kill him!
Dry your tears,
Spread the word!
The old dark tomb
Glows like a furnace!
The Earth Today
Is soft with peace
After Friday’s gloom,
Go and tell the others!
Mary saw him by the garden
Glowing white and gold
Like the lilies!
It’s not all over!
It’s just begun,
The Lord is risen,
Like the sun!
© 1981, 2020, By John Mallon