Okay, I can’t be the only person who every time we hear the Cycle B Passion wonders about the young man following Jesus wearing only a towel:
A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth.
They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked. (Mark 14: 51-52)nrsv
Who was he? What had he been doing? Where were his clothes? And most importantly; why is this two line vignette in the gospel account at all?
I decided to do some digging. I started with the Catholic Study Bible Notes: which is silent on the subject.
Next stop Jerome Biblical Commentary:
The identity of the young disciple who flees away naked has attracted many guesses through the centuries. Whoever oe whatever he was, in the present context he is the individuation of 14:50, “And all left him and fled.
So, we are getting somewhere. The young man symbolizes the individuation; in other words Mark puts a face on all those who fled Jesus after he was arrested. But, there is more to discover!
In An Introduction to the New Testament, Raymond Brown says:
Attempts to identify the young men are probably in vain. (BDM1.294-304); he symbolizes failure: Those who had left everything to follow him (Jesus) have now left everything to get away from him.
Aha! To follow Jesus will cost us something, this we know. At least those of us who are “All in” and have offered everything to him. What will happen when our faith is tested; and look around, chances are really good if you are a Christian living in the world today your faith will be tested in a big way.
Will we be like the young man who was so eager to get away that he left everything behind?
Will we be like Peter, boldly proclaiming his faith, and then when put to the test denying even knowing Jesus?
Or will we be like Joseph of Arimethea; bold enough in our faith to stand up to authority so that what is propper can occur.
I know who I want to be like. I pray when my faith is tested that I will have the strength to do the right thing.
Have a Blessed Holy Week!