Lenten Prayer with St Cuthbert – Day 37

An extended prayer time this morning due to the long reading about Cuthbert’s last weeks.

The Pharisees and the scribes have all had their go at trying to catch Jesus out and find a pretext for having him arrested. Now its the turn of the other major sect, the Sadducees. They ask their knock-down question that proves the stupidity of the notion of ‘resurrection’. It is interesting that, after Jesus annihilates the Sadducees, when the scribes seek to congratulate him, he turns on them. He has absolutely no interest in playing to the power structures. He is the great leveller, raising the poor widow up to a greater place of worthiness than all the wealthy. Remember that prosperity was seen as a sign of God’s blessing, as poverty and suffering were taken as an indication of God’s judgement on sinfulness. Jesus completely overturns their presumptions.

Cuthbert only has a few months left to live after he lays down his episcopal mantle. The scene is pitiful and desperate, the suffering cruel and intense. Yet they all see it as part of the path towards wholeness and holiness. The detail in its austerity is excruciating, from the suppurating feet to the half-eaten onion. Cuthbert’s last days are as glamorous as Christ’s passion. (Note that the Bede in the story is not the same Bede telling the story).

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