Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Passion Of Christ, Yr B)

THE HANDS OF THE PASSION
(Mark 14:1 – 15:47)

I tell of the hand, its suppleness, strength,
how it performs every wish of our thought:
subtlety to smooth and shape wood, clay, paint;

and by its powers great structures are wrought.
With the hand we salute, we show caring,
kindness; the hand undoes the tangled knot,

lifts the fallen and helps the ones bearing
the heavy load; the hand the instrument
of holding, releasing; keeping, sharing –

whatever it is that our hearts have meant
to accomplish. Consider then the hands
at work in this story. See the pair bent

to pour the perfume on Jesus. It lands
fragrant, filling the still air with rich breath,
gift of tenderness to one whose commands

had healed many, but for whom, she knows, death
looms. From hands flow love. But hands, too, clutch greed,
cruelty in their fists. See Judas, met

by the chief priests in the grip of their need
to be rid of Jesus. Judas’ hands reach
for the coins of betrayal. He will feed,

one of the twelve, at the table, where each
will protest steadfastness. See their hands dip
with Christ’s in the bowl. And what does it teach

when Christ’s hands break bread for us, when the sip
of the cup handed round is his blood? When
his hands wash our feet on their dusty trips

through the roughness of the world? Can we learn
forgiveness from his fingers? Or will ours
be the hands of injustice, those that spurn

mercy: swords waved in the garden, glowers
of fury on faces, hands tearing clothes,
hands striking, abusing him through the hours.

See the guards hang on him a purple robe.
The hands whipping. The ones placing the crown
of thorns. Words and hands conspiring as goads

as he stumbles on his way up the hill. Down
the long years we have seen what they did there,
the hands swinging hammers, nailing his own

to the cross. But see, with the curtain’s tear,
God’s hand at work too: the cross is the way
to salvation.
At last with Joseph’s care

hands are tender again, and thus display
again the heart’s power to love; and so
even a tomb, on this darkest of days,

becomes touched by the presence of grace. Go
to touch with that grace whatever you will.
Be Christ’s hands. Let the redeemed heart show,
that this crucifying world know his love still.

Copyright © 2015 by Andrew King

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