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And Now…

… it is Holy Week. 

We can enter it. Give ourselves fully to it. There are scenes to stir the imagination should we choose to engage them: a colt tethered, palm branches waving, an alabaster jar opened, a meal, a garden, a Roman instrument of torture, and a rooster that crows. 

Two scenes bring questions to my mind: Why did Mary of Bethany pour the perfume on Jesus? What propelled Judas to the chief priests and scribes to betray him? 

Mary’s extravagance transports me. I comprehend on a visceral level what I read recently: “There is nothing calculating, careful, or conservative about the woman’s action.”* Her response is both unselfish and lavish. I am called to love that much? How is that possible? I sit watching Mary and Jesus. When have I done something so totally lovingly and seemingly unreasonable? Watching her giving and his receiving, I believe I can love more. Mary’s act of compassion moves me to try.

Judas feasted with Jesus. He traveled with him. The intimacy he and Jesus must have shared. The laughter and the camaraderie they experienced with one another. “Why, Judas? Mary showers him with perfume; you go to the authorities.” But in my imagination, I don’t sit in judgment of Judas; that would be too easy. What intimate friends have I betrayed? If I take on the name of Christ and give him a kiss as Judas did, how can I judge Judas? Being in this scene, I come face to face with my own betrayals. What will I do with them? I will not do what Judas did. Rather, I am inspired to ask for forgiveness, walk more humbly, and work on moving with much more compassion through this world.

There are so many more from which to learn as we walk the way of the cross this week. Where was Simone the Cyrene going when he was pressed to carry the cross? Did the weight of it change him? Each moment that Peter denies Christ. He was scared. How did that fear feel? Did it grow with each “You know him?” Who was the Good Thief? Why did he ask to be with Jesus when he came into his kingdom? Why was he repentant, but the other thief was not? How about the soldiers betting? What is it like standing by Jesus’ mother and the Apostle John at the foot of the cross? How does their agony express itself in their bodies – in my body? What can each of these people teach us? Can we imagine ourselves there, and what might we learn if we can?

It’s Holy Week. I hope I can give myself to each day of it, and I hope you can as well.

*From Daily Meditations email by Robert Barron.

3 Responses

  1. Judas expected a victorious Jesus-a King, a Conqueror, riding in glory, not humble and on a lowly ass. His disappointment triggered anger, vengeance-betrayal.
    Peter was also disappointed-he too betrayed Jesus with his denial of their relationship.
    Which one am I?

  2. Hello Bren, I’ve been thinking of you these past few weeks; I visited St. Catherine’s at the invitation of Lina Delgado the lovely, inspired, visionary Head of School.
    A feasibility study begins this summer to construct a building to house high school students. Upper El, Adolescent Community and High School populations are growing. As we walked the land I was introduced to students working in the chicken coop, gardens and orchard. I shared your story of guiding us toward this future and told Lina I would invite you to visit to see the fruit of your hard work over many hours, days, weeks and years that has come to be. Please let me know when you are in Houston next time so we can get together and you can see the Kingdom Coming at St. Catherine’s!

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