Monday, 25 April 2011

Surprised by Easter

There's a (probably apocryphal) story of T S Eliot being approached by a bright young thing in Oxford, who asked him what the opening of his poem Ash Wednesday ("Lady, three white leopards sat under the juniper tree/In the cool of the day.") meant. His reply was, "Madam, it means 'Lady, three white leopards sat under the juniper tree in the heat of the day'."

This year I've been reading Luke's account of Jesus' passion and resurrection. I'm struck by how hard it is to improve on the pure narrative - something that poor preachers try to do year after year (and of course I'm including the old me! I heard of one who had to preach no less than six times yesterday.) Something of a theological attempt to reinvent the wheel. The story of the pair walking wearily back to Emmaus after the most dispiriting Sabbath they'd ever spent in Jerusalem is so dramatic and credible, it might almost have been written by one of them. As part of an unfolding picture, it's certainly the work of a master narrator. Nothing really needs adding. Caravaggio obviously caught the significance of that momentous meal.

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