It was Maundy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper was over, and we awaited our turn to proceed to the Altar of Repose. The man who had caught my eye and smiled at the Sign of Peace came across and shook my hand.
‘Hello Simeon, I was Caiaphas.’
A few years before we had taken those parts in a mystery play in Canterbury Cathedral, put on by the Franciscan Study Centre under Walter Lippi from Florence.
To come together that night! The play had mostly been about the trial and judicial assassination of Jesus, and its effects on Mary.
Caiaphas: It is better for one man to die for the nation.
Simeon: My eyes have seen thy Salvation which you have prepared before all peoples. A sword will pierce your heart.
Which of them had more evidence about Jesus? Simeon saw the Messiah in a little child; Caiaphas could weigh up the political situation caused by Jesus’ ministry, but had no vision, Eyes that did not see.
When I survey the wondrous Cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Simeon, foreground, with Friar Stefan to our left and Caiaphas to our right.
Yesterday was the feast of the Holy Cross, today of Mary as Queen of Sorrows. Father Anthony Charlton at St Thomas’s Church, Canterbury, has invited us to pray especially at this time for all those affected by abuse of children and vulnerable people in the Church. May we have the vision to survey the Cross on which the Prince of Glory’s brothers and sisters are tortured in our day, and the wisdom to take the first steps to helping them.