20 Contemplations #15: Intimacy

Caravaggio – The Betrayal of Christ

He comes near, able to touch, to be touched,
and be wounded, to kiss and to be kissed:
the grateful kiss, the sleepy child dismiss-
ing himself to sleep; the mother’s kiss, a smudge
on freshly-bathed cheek; the plotter’s grudge
expressed in the curl of doubled lips,
the final, false farewell, the fatal tryst.
He comes to feel the touch of friend and judge.
He comes to raise His hand to touch the world,
to put together Jacob’s broken hip,
to be the salve on Adam’s missing rib,
to gather in His family, unfurled,
and show that God’s love isn’t scared to feel
the pain of touch to make all new, to heal.

Lent 44: Maundy Thursday

Detail from Ford Madox Brown, "Jesus Washing Peter's Feet", Tate Online
Detail from Ford Madox Brown, “Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet”, Tate Online

A new command I give to you

High Priests gather; darkness looms

That you love as I’ve loved you

Pilate’s wife now dreams…


Love your enemies and pray

Judas gives back bloody coins

Blessed are the merciful

The High Priests buy a field


This is how all men will know

Pilate struts; the people shout

That you are all my followers

Judas hangs in shame.


If you have love, one to another

“Shall I give him back to you?”

A new command I give to you

“Crucify!” they scream.

Lent 39: Saturday of Fifth Week

Sit with Him; eat with Him;

dip the bread, by His side –

Surely Lord not I?


Walk with Him through olive trees;

fall asleep and fail to pray;

watch as one of you betrays –

Surely Lord not I?


Warm yourself by cosy fires;

answer truth with spitting lies;

listen as the cock crows; Thrice

you will deny me. Adamant:

Surely Lord not I?


Watch as thorns are made His crown;

see the dice cast for His clothes;

see them spit and mock and dance;

see them cast their king aside;

Surely Lord, surely Lord,

surely Lord, not I?


See Him breathe with aching breath;

see Him lift Himself and gasp;

see Him turn His gaze to sky;

see Him ask in agony:

Forgive them, Father, they know not

what they do. See; watch and weep:

Surely Lord, surely Lord,

surely, Lord, not I?


See Him cast death, weak, aside;

see Him take on life and rise.

See Him lift the cursed ones too

and take them through His life and death;

see Him give His death to them

and give His life and give His pain

and give His life to live again.

Surely Lord, surely Lord,

surely, Lord, not I?