Friends, our Gospel today is St. John’s poignant account of the arrest of Jesus. The setting is the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus has just been betrayed by Judas, seized, arrested and bound, the ear of the high priest’s slave has been severed; all of Jesus’ disciples have fled.
In a parallel narrative, St. Mark adds this odd detail of the young man running off naked into the night. Like a Renaissance painter who puts contemporary figures into a Biblical scene, here Mark places a stand-in for you and me in the scene. The young man is described as “following Jesus.” This, of course, is Biblical code for discipleship.
And what is he wearing? The term used in the Greek (sindona) designates the kind of garment worn by the newly-baptized. The point is this: to be a baptized member of Christ’s Church is to put oneself in harm’s way.
To be a follower of Jesus is to walk a dangerous path, one sure to upset the powers that be. The shame of this young man is that, at the moment of truth, he fled, leaving his precious baptismal garment in the hands of Jesus’ enemies.
It forces a question on us: what do we do at the moment of truth?