Today, the Tuesday of Holy Week, the gospel foreshadows the sad end that will come by as the week progresses:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” (Jn 13:21)
“Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.” (Jn 13:38)
It stands in stark contrast to Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem we read about just two days earlier on Sunday:
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!
Hosanna in the highest!” (Mk 11:10)
We know these words so well. We know the story. We know how it starts, and we know how it ends. The most amazing thing is that Jesus knew, too. He knew his triumphal entry to Jerusalem would end with his death. Yet He entered anyway. He awaited the betrayal and the denial, and ultimately death.
How many of us would be able to do the same? How many of us can love that way? Think about how many times we’ve been hurt by someone and written them off, or been betrayed and desired ill for the other? It’s a common human experience which only divinity can overcome. Only grace gives us the ability to love that way.
Three months ago, in the next town over, an older woman was struck by a drunk driver and killed early on a Sunday morning as she was loading doughnuts into her car for Mass that morning. Her husband of 37 years saw it happen right in front of him. This weekend’s paper quoted her husband’s words to the driver at the end of her trial, “I forgive you for what you’ve done to my family and me and hope you get the help you need to make you a better person.” Imagine that! What an amazing witness to the love of Christ!
Quite honestly, I have to ask myself if I could do that. Yet aren’t we all called to love that way and to witness that way? Weren’t those words among the 7 last sayings of Christ, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”?
Like this man, Jesus had every reason not to proceed with doing what He knew must be done. In one instant, so much of his life was ripped away. But the expected angry response simply wasn’t there – only love. This is not to say that he suffered no agony in his loss, or that there were no moments of deep sorrow. His suffering was united with the suffering of Jesus in Gethsemane, “Father let this cup pass me by, but not my will but Yours be done.” I can only imagine Jesus’ words to this humble soul when he meets Jesus face to face, “This day you will be with me in paradise.”
Holy week is a time of great grace. I encourage you enter deeply into the mystery through the scriptures and through the 3 days of the Triduum. Set aside time to pray and meditate, especially on the Passion. If we choose to do so, Jesus will transform the familiar into the extraordinary. But, in reality, isn’t that what it truly is?
We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world Anne