I didn’t make it through the whole three hours of St. Matthew’s Passion. All kinds of reasons not related to the performance. Let’s say it was my leg and my gut and let it go at that.
I also hadn’t take my Zoloft equivalent for several days, so this post has to be made with an awareness of that. My emotions were very much available to me, is what I’m saying.
While I was only able to stay for the first part of the passion, I heard it in a way I had never heard it before.
I didn’t get how Bach felt whatever it was he felt. I think he deeply felt his guilt and shame before this dying hero. The passages from the women were extraordinary – both Mary and Mary Magdalene had a depth that I had not experienced before.
What I heard that I had never heard before was the story of a man who is betrayed by his friends, left helpless by his family, exposed to the power of the Roman Empire. First the first time, I think, I felt the depth of that betrayal and that exposure.
I have never had disciples, never had followers. But I’ve had an been friends. Some I’ve been close to and supported, and some I’ve failed at various times. But I’ve never been betrayed by my friends. Disappointed, I suppose, but never betrayed. Yet I can feel how vulnerable that leaves you. Alone. Solitary. Friends failing you left and right. My God, the darkness that descends as you face the universe alone. As Moltmann emphasizes in The Crucified God, even deserted by the one who sent you, by the Father who said he loves you unconditionally and has called you, once, My Son.
Letting go of the specific Christian claim of the resurrection, last night I felt anew a very human story, and it moved me deeply. I am sorry that I was not well enough to stay for my favorite chorus, the last chorus. Next year in Presser Hall!