Maundy Thursday and Invictus

“He threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’” – Matthew 26:39

Invictus by William Earnest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,

      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.The contrast between these two speaks for itself. One is about the unmitigated subjugation of self to self. The other stands as the pinnacle of obedience to God. While I’m not sure what to make of the later, the second is part of the tradition in which I have been formed.I wonder however, if the same person said both but followed the course of action of Christ, would that be a true sense of dying to self or would that be ultimately an expression of self. To see the daunting reality and choose it for oneself is a type of obedience. Self sacrifice that is willing.

Of course Invictus wants us the be the masters of our own fate, the captains of our own souls despite the suffering endured in the middle of all that self captaining. Our self, our identity is shaped beyond the suffering into something that is unbroken and unbowed. Our unbowed self is not saying that we will have any measure of success we so choose in this world, it remarks only that we cannot loose ourselves to the brutality.

So, I ask the question again: what if these lines were spoken by the same person?


About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
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