Mark 8:38

Whoever is ashamed of me and of my teaching, in this unfaithful and wicked generation, of them will the Son of Man be ashamed, when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” 


angels hover near test sites
where humans partner
with one another
wrestling with saints and demons
to see their face
and hear their names

in each temptation
we hold on to beasts
morphed to angels
and back again to self
chipping away every suffering
to its merciful core

testing by testing
our illusions solidify
to be embraced
as Francis did his leper
in a moment
for e’er

in a beast’s lair
we are shamed
by our ease of blame
separating self from context
idolizing angels
assuming cheap unity


“Shame” is a tricky concept here as it may also be translated as simply “having nothing to do with” another. “You are dead to me”, may be a more colloquial way of indicating this ancient dynamic.

“Unfaithfulness” and “adulteress” are identifiers of idolatry. This shifts the first judgment of shame toward there being something more important or meaningful. This divide of importance reinforces the descriptor of “distanced from” rather than “ashamed of”.

Another way of coming at this verse might be: “Whoever will have nothing to do with me has chosen something less to be important and thus misses the mark. The Fullness of Humanity (Son of Adam) will then be missing for them when the Light of Creation returns from the wilderness with wild beasts and angels.”

The last part of this recasting harkens back to the important difference between a Word (“Let it be…”, “Beloved”) and a setting of a post-Edenic Wilderness. It also presages a next image of Transfiguration at a half-way point in Mark’s story (Doxa/Glory as Shining/Light).

Our location between Creation and Eschaton is a wild and wooly place to be. It is filled with choices, affirmations, betrayals, glory, and shame. Saving lives and losing lives, questions of meaning and importance—then, now, and when—come crowding around while we find a stillness at the current nexus of life and Life.

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