“DO YOU EVER GET TIRED?” (Mk 1:29-39): 16 January 2008 (Wednesday)
There is a scene in the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” (1973), where a crowd of sick people suddenly appear out of nowhere singing a litany of their woes and illnesses. They crowd around Jesus as they beg him to heal them, chanting repeatedly in an almost maddening fashion:
“Will you touch, will you mend me, Christ?
Won’t you touch, will you heal me, Christ?
Will you kiss, you can heal me, Christ
Won’t you kiss, won’t you pay me, Christ?”
All that the overwhelmed Jesus can do in the scene is to cry out in exasperation: “There’s too many of you! Don’t push me! There’s too little of me! Don’t crowd me! Leave me!”
I remember some people were quite scandalized about this scene. Many who see it today might protest that the scene portrays a Jesus that’s quite unfaithful to the gospel. After all, as recounted in today’s reading, Jesus spends all day healing, teaching, and performing exorcisms. When he rises early the next morning for some quiet moments of prayer, even then he does not get a moment’s rest, for people are seeking him already. The Lord doesn’t send people away, but goes off to other villages and synagogues, healing and preaching.
But if we remember that “Jesus Christ Superstar” is a musical, a genre with its own conventions, it’s possible to interpret that scene in a way that does not make it disagree with the gospel portrait. In a musical, the film’s characters express their thoughts and emotions in song, even if they don’t necessarily say or act them out. In other words, just because the character of Jesus sings about his exhaustion and even his wish that he be left alone doesn’t necessarily mean that he actually says them to that mob of sick people.
The point of the scene seems to be that just like the rest of us, Jesus too must have gotten tired during his earthly existence. Being all too human, he too must have felt weary, even exasperated with others.
In one of the most powerful and painful songs in “Jesus Christ Superstar,” the character of Jesus leaves his disciples after the Last Supper and wrestles with himself in Gethsemane. During one of the more quiet moments of his song, he tells the Father how he feels in words unforgettably poignant:
“After all, I’ve tried for three years,
Feels like thirty, feels like thirty.
Could you ask for more from any other man?”
I don’t know about you, but I find that a comforting thought: That God knows what it means to be tired because he’s “been there, done that.” He himself has experienced what it feels like to want to give up because others don’t appreciate what he has done. So he understands how we feel when we get exasperated when despite our efforts, people don’t seem to respond or change.
Sometimes it’s tiring to do good, especially when you don’t seem to be making any difference, or what you do is not appreciated, or simply when doing good begins to hurt, such as when we get tired and have other things to do.
That the Lord is human just like the rest of us can be a source of consolation and encouragement when we’re down. It shows us the way when we find ourselves in such a situation. Like the rest of us, the Lord can get exhausted and exasperated, but unlike most of us, he didn’t give up or stop helping others just because he was exhausted or just because he no longer felt like it.
Something to think about–and pray for.
Note: I’ve uploaded the “Gethsemane” scene from “Jesus Christ Superstar.”