What Have You to Do with Us?

In my weary moments, I wonder:
What have you to do with us,
Jesus of Nazareth?

Your followers (including me)
have found some other path
than yours. You, after all, relieved
the pains of those you met, while we
who claim your name impose such pain
to “save” our comfort or our power or
this sad deluded shout of “righteousness!”
We shame the poor; we spread disease;
we wrap ourselves in violence.
Were I you, Jesus, I would think
to shed this ill-named Christianity,
to wash it away, perhaps,
and start anew.

In my lonely moments, I wonder:
What have you to do with us,
Jesus of Nazareth?

Oh, sometimes I can feel your breath
upon my shoulder, sometimes feel
your hand upon my arm, yes
sometimes feel you pulling me into
a new direction. But.
Sometimes when evening falls or sunrise lifts
I sense no company, no strong
companion, and I long to know
once more the certainty my memory’s
fragility retains so fitfully
of your once-lucent clarity.

In my awestruck moments, I wonder:
What have you to do with us,
Jesus of Nazareth?

You could dance among the stars;
perhaps you do. I would, I think,
if I were you. You could speak and all
the evils of this world would be resolved.
Yes, bring the braided cords and clear
the temple – well, unless you’d have to lay
your sternness upon me. I’d settle then
for mercy, thank you very much.
No, with the ancient poet I repeat:
What are human beings that you
hold us in your mind; what are
mortals that you care for us?

In truth, I have no ready answer
for my weariness, my loneliness,
or even for my awe.
I can only be grateful, Jesus,
that you have been with us – and are.

A poem/prayer based on Mark 1:21-28, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year B, Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany.

The image is Christ heals the possessed by engraver Jan Luyken. In the Bowyer Bible in Bolton Museum, England. Print 4234. From “An Illustrated Commentary on the Gospel of Mark” by Phillip Medhurst. Section D. Jesus confronts uncleanness. Mark 1:21-45, 2:1-12, 5:1-20, 25-34, 7:24-30. Image courtesy Phillip Vere – http://wfurl.com/a6ea272 (.pdf) “An illustrated commentary on the Gospel of Mark”. By Phillip Medhurst. .pdf file, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9393722.

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