When the disciples gather for the meal on Holy Thursday, Jesus is aware that it is the last time he will be together with them. For this reason, everything he says and does has a special significance. Every moment is filled with meaning. Jesus leaves his legacy.
He kneels before his friends and washes their feet, a service normally carried out by a house slave. John, who recounts this episode, emphasizes two things.
First, the devil has already given Judas the idea to betray Jesus. Jesus doesn’t wash the feet of the disciples because they are good and loving. He does it because he loves them with a love that can do nothing but go on loving until the end. Jesus makes himself small before them. Even Judas—already possessed by the devil—sees his master at his feet.
John emphasizes, secondly, that Jesus is wholly conscious that the Father has handed him everything, that he has come from God and is now returning to him. At this hour, Jesus knows he is God. The gesture he is making is not just friendliness toward one’s companions. Neither is it a teacher’s example of humility. What happens is that God kneels before his creation and serves it. God has not only become human, he becomes the slave of humankind and takes the absolute lowest place.
Before this mystery it is both comical and ridiculous to observe our propensity for wanting to dominate others, and maintain our rights and dignity. If we want to be like God there is only one way: to bend low and serve.
~ A Meditation by Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.
Wishing you all a very blessed and prayerful Sacred Triduum!
Night has fallen. The terrible sin — that of killing the Lord — the epitome of all sin, is as good as accomplished. And Judas goes off . . .
Night has fallen indeed and yet, within the supper room there is a cry of exultation that is, in itself, a shattering of the night. ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.’
Jesus is to die, and he accepts this with all the passionate commitment of his surrendered heart — so deep, so unrestricted is his love for us. His is Love to the end, the uttermost love, which is total self-expenditure.
He knows that the love driving him on is not born of the human spirit; he knows that the Father himself is pouring into his poor human heart the immensity of his own self-expending love for men.
When he hangs on the cross, naked, emptied out, reduced to nothing, we shall have some idea of what this Man is, who he is, Son of eternal Love itself. Looking on him, seeing him truly for the first time, we shall know what sort of a God we have; for the first time human beings will know what God is really like.
He is a complete reversal of all merely human notions of God: he is Love that gives.
We wounded him by our sinning — we bruised him — yet all he bore became our healing.
~ A Meditation by Ruth Burrows, O.C.D.
Father the hour has come, glorify your Son. ~ John 17:1
Mary brought in a pound of every costly ointment. ~ John 12:3
Here we are shown a woman who was truly a disciple, one with a listening ear. She was a woman for whom Jesus really mattered, more than anything else in the world, more than herself.
She saw life’s sole task as listening to the Lord, hearing the word of God’s, which always includes putting it into practice. We do not ‘hear’ in the biblical sense unless the hearing is translated into action. Like Martha, Mary too must have had many things to do but still only one sole purpose — to listen to the Lord.
The result was a deep knowledge of Jesus, of the hidden springs of his being, so to speak. As Jesus could say ‘Holy Father the world has not known you, but I have known you’ — because he lived on the Father’s will, so this woman could say, ‘Holy Jesus, the world has not known you, but I have known you.’
Thus she, of all others it seems, divined that he was to die and that this dying was his Father’s will. She did not raise an outcry, or plan a campaign to stop him going to Jerusalem. She had entered into his deepest inner movements, no matter how dimly. She came with her symbolic gesture of pure devotion, identification, anointing him for his burial.
There is nothing else a disciple can do — no heroics, no glib professions that we are ready to die with him, but rather deep humility, deep gratitude for what he is doing. He has to do it in order to destroy our sin, our alienation from the Father. Then we shall be able to follow him.
Mary of Bethany is the symbol of Christian discipleship. If we do not come to this deep knowledge what does it mean? Yes, there is a Mary in us all, a devoted woman, but each of us has also to recognize a potential Judas, the worldling whose values are completely opposite to those of Jesus. Judas scorns the folly of the cross, the way of lowliness, humiliation, unimportance. He scorns the gesture of dumb, simple devotion. He is opposed to the mind of Christ who humbled himself, became nothing . . .
Judas too is capable of conversion. Ask our Lord with great earnestness to convert him wholly. Then there will be nothing in any of us but pure devotion — and the house will be filled with sweetness, refreshing the world.
Today’s gospel is the Passion according to Saint Luke.
One of the priests executed during the Mexican Revolution was Miguel Pro. A famous photograph of his execution shows him with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross. The government took the photograph, mass produced it, and distributed it among the people as a means of both mocking the Church and showing people who was in charge. But within a year, the government banned the photo because it had become an icon of adoration among the Mexican people.
Where does real power reside? Pilate’s statement, “Do you not know that I have the power to release you, and the power to crucify you” is an illusion, for Jesus laid down his life of his own free will. At times, power seems to lie in the hands of the rulers of this world, but in due time, the truth emerges that it lies in the hands of God.
One of the truths embedded in the Passion of Jesus is that the reality of any given situation comes to light in God’s time. What looked like defeat on Good Friday was disclosed as the triumph of God’s love on Easter Sunday. The import of this truth for our lives is that no act of love is ever wasted. Every time we do the will of God, in spite of all appearances, we contribute to the redemption of the world. We may never see the positive impact of our good deeds; nevertheless, if they are acts of Love they are guaranteed by God.
“Love,” writes Evelyn Underhill, “after all, makes the whole difference between an execution and a martyrdom” (55). If the Crucifixion had not been an act of Divine Love, it would have been no more than a routine execution in a remote corner of the Roman Empire.
The same is true with us. Because we are members of the Body of Christ, whenever we unite our actions with Christ upon the Cross, they are redemptive. Love transforms the banal actions of daily life into divine deeds that plant the seeds of God’s transforming love in our world.
~ A Meditation by Marc Foley, O.C.D.
The Sign of the Cross ❤
The lovers of Christ lift out their hands to the great gift of suffering. For how could they seek to be warmed and clothed and delicately fed, to wallow in praise and to drink deep draughts of an underserved affection, have castle for home and a silken couch for bed, when He the worthy went forth, wounded and hated, and grudged of even a place to lay His head?
This is the badge of the friends of the Man of Sorrows: the mark of the cross, faint replica of His, become ubiquitous now; it spreads like a wild blossom on the mountains of time and in each of the crevices. Oh, seek that land where it grows in a rich abundance with its thorny stem and its scent like bitter wine, for wherever Christ walks He casts its seed and He scatters its purple petals. It is the flower of His marked elect, and the fruit it bears is divine.
Choose it, my heart. It is a beautiful sign.
~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.