Friday, March 29, 2013

Tenebrae, the darkness and the shadow

Tonight is the eve of Good Friday.  Tonight, I will attend my church's Tenebrae service.  Tenebrae, Latin for darkness or shadow.  It is a most somber event, yet in truth ("What is truth?", I hear Pilate say), it is the core of the entire Passion.  For without the darkness, we would not have the Light.

Ever since childhood, even before I believed, I have been fascinated with the last week of Christ's life, the Passion Week.  The interplay between Jesus and the Apostles, Judas, between Jesus and Pilate.  For Pilate was afraid--fearing more for his own life under Tiberius (and his Praetorian Prefects) if he allowed an insurrection in Judea.  He feared recall to Rome, and probable execution.

During the all too brief time Jesus is before Pilate, Pilate tries passing responsibility to Herod, and when that fails, he tries to get the rowdy crowd to allow Jesus to be released for Passover.  He fails here too, as the crowd is mostly the Sanhedrin's own mob.  Eventually, in order to appease his own feelings of guilt at crucifying an innocent man, he washes his hands (literally) of the affair.

Pilate was eventually recalled to Rome, at the same time as Tiberius's death, and the installation of Caligula.  Historical reports indicate Pilate committed suicide (like Judas, but for different reasons) in the early part of Caligula's brief reign.

I think sometimes, that my interest in the Passion, was God's way of giving me a gentle pop upside the head, saying, ” Hey!  Pay attention!  This IS important.  There will be a quiz, and it is pass-fail.”  It just took me a long time to finally see the Light.


  1. It is indeed pass/fail. Thanks for a historical view to what is more than faith.

  2. I would have loved to share Friday services with you; they sound wonderful! Thank God for the loophole -smile-.


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