The second part of Rupert’s reflection on the Crucifixion.
The Centurion by Rupert Greville.
Luke’s Gospel records that it was on seeing the signs that followed Jesus’s death that the centurion declared him to be “a righteous man”. It seems likely to me that he might also have witnessed the conversation between the two thieves and Jesus, and that if he had heard it, he would not have been unmoved by Jesus’s extraordinary compassion.
We led him out beyond the city gate
Onto the hill, where women wept for grief,
And mockers jeered and spat with studied hate;
We nailed him there, with either side a thief.
Our dismal task, on raising up the three,
To watch them writhe and die in sickening pain;
But now a thief, bound fast against his tree,
Enrolled himself in this Messiah’s reign.
A merciless morning sun in that place of death
Had welded wounds to wood; scourged back with torn skin
Glued, then prised away each laboured breath;
Now all was dark. He turned his face to him.
He spoke as one who knew him, one who cared,
And promised paradise with him that very day;
In shameful death he blessed! I stood and stared,
Seized by the power of what I’d heard him say:
Words of life. But I Rome’s servant sworn –
A lifeless soul, unmoved by death or pain:
That cold indifference died, and hope was born
There on that hill and in this man we’d slain.
Rupert Greville is a member of the L’Arche Kent Community.
The print that illustrates yesterday’s post and today’s can be found in the public domain at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.