Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” —Mark 15:37-39
Seminary is the most overwhelmingly Christian community I’ve ever belonged to. I grew up in public schools, and my experience of church was largely relegated to Sundays, a day that even church had to share with Carolina Panthers football. Many of my closest friends in college were Muslim, Jewish or agnostic. But in this exclusively Christian community called seminary, I found my sense of call thrown into crisis. Here were people who experienced God in profoundly different ways than I did: neighbors who hear God’s voice audibly, friends who speak in tongues.
I started to worry: had I been pretending to hear a call this entire time? Was I only fooling myself? Why hasn’t God spoken to me in the same, unambiguous ways that God has spoken to others?
These anxieties subsided as I learned to emulate the centurion of Mark 15. Even when the temple curtain is torn dramatically in two, the centurion keeps his eyes fixed upon Jesus. He seems unfazed by the spectacular; it is not the tearing of the curtain that reveals Jesus’ divinity, but the way in which the crucified Jesus “breathes his last.”
The lead character in the TV series “How I Met Your Mother,” Ted Mosby, once said, “You can ask the universe for signs all you want, but ultimately, we only see what we want to see, when we’re ready to see it.” The curtain will not always miraculously tear, God will not always appear as a visible pillar of fire before us. But if we turn ourselves toward the cross, we will know the truth: “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
God, turn our attention toward your crucified body. Have us seek you not in signs, but in solidarity with the crucified people of our day and age. Amen.
Casey Aldridge is a seminarian at Princeton Theological Seminary and a seminarian intern at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.