LENTEN EVENING REFLECTION ON THE READINGS OF THE DAY
Br. Brillis Mathew
Today’s first readings was from the 50th chapter of the Prophet Isaiah. There we see the Prophet portraying the sufferings of the Messiah: how He was to face and endure sufferings – with patience, courage, confidence and with great hope. The response to the Psalm is a heart-breaking cry:
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Jesus experienced the human condition to the full. There are times when we also may have asked,
“My God, why is all this happening in my life?”
Sometimes we may feel as if we are at the end of the tunnel, or at a dead end, and not knowing where to go or the direction in which to turn. The consolations and desolations that Jesus experienced is something that all of us will also experience, when we too,
are moved by the same Spirit which was in Christ
The Second Reading from the letter of Paul to the Philippians (chapter 2, v6-11) is also a very beautiful passage, which I strongly recommend to commit to your memory so that it can be meditated and prayed daily. Let us ask ourselves:
As I pass through this Holy Week, do I realise the seriousness of what I am going to see and encounter?
Let us try to enter into the meaning of Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem to move towards His death. He was reaching the fulfilment of the real purpose of His coming into the world: unlike all other human beings who came into the world to live,
Jesus came into the world to die
. This statement must not remain abstract and obscure, something far away which has no direct relation to me and you. On the other hand, we must arrive at the deep conviction that
Jesus died for me!
It is when we arrive at this conviction that our lives are going to change. In fact, besides His Blessed Mother,
only Jesus Himself
knew the real reason why He really entered Jerusalem – it was in order to die.
If we had carefully listened to the readings of the previous days, we might have noticed a hesitation on the part of Jesus to enter the city of Jerusalem. He always had to face opposition when He tried to enter into the city. In John 11, we hear that along the journey to Jerusalem, Jesus visited Martha Mary and Lazarus. We read that Jesus loved them very much. In John 11:33-35, we read that Jesus wept. We may wonder why. However, when we read that
Jesus loved this family very deeply
, it is not difficult to understand His anguish when witnessing firsthand
the pain of His close friends
. Moving on to John 12, we read of the seemingly “triumphal” entry into Jerusalem (John 12:12-36). Though his disciples did not realise, Jesus knew fully about all the sufferings that He was to face. They understood the meaning of all these events only later when they received
the Spirit of Truth
(John 16:13). But during the time, they too joined the crowd, shouting
which in Hebrew means
“Save us please!”
The disciples were
lost within the crowd
in thinking that the apparent triumph of Jesus was the beginning of a larger political triumph which was soon to come. Far from coming to liberate them within the political sphere, Jesus had come to liberate them from sin and from the dominion of the Prince of Darkness, the Devil. As He was with the disciples who were not able to understand what was happening, just imagine what must have been going on within the mind of Jesus, the real Passion that He underwent, which was not only the physical suffering upon the Cross, but something that He had to endure all through His entire life.
Therefore, as we enter into this Passion Week let us not remain mere spectators. On the other hand, we must be those who
the whole event - His sufferings and His death - not as if He did this for someone else, but realising that
He did it for me
! It is when we have this experience that we will have a true Passion Week. Sometimes the best possible way for us to have such an “encounter” is by prayerfully reading the Scriptures and meditating on these events. It is easy for us to read or hear about these events and remain on an intellectual level of knowing the events as they happened, but remaining
completely indifferent to their meaning for each one of us
. What Jesus wants is that all of us have a true encounter Him as we pass through this Passion Week. Let us again recall to mind the words of Pope Benedict:
“Christianity is not a religion of ethics and set of lofty ideals, but an encounter with a Person.”
Let us pause to examine ourselves: Have we ever encountered Christ in our lives? It is only when we have this encounter that will our lives are going to change. Today I was watching a documentary film about a young woman from Ireland whose life underwent a remarkable transformation from the moment she had an encounter with Christ. She then became a nun. This encounter came when she kissed the Crucifix on Good Friday. At that very moment she understood that
Jesus loved me, and that He died for me, He gave His life for me
. These days, I would recommend that we all spend some time before a crucifix, freeing ourselves from everything that may distract us. We need not worry about the spontaneous prayers that we are used to saying, or the “rituals” that we may follow. Let us just look at the Crucifix and try to listen what Jesus on the Cross is speaking to us. We also will be able to experience what St. Paul wrote,
I have been crucified with Christand yet I am alive; yet it is no longer I, but Christ living in me.
When we read the Passion Narrative, we also encounter different characters. Let us pause to examine ourselves; sometimes these characters are also within us. Let us ask the Lord how we can change our lives. We cannot change our lives with our own strength but only by cooperating with the grace of our Lord. Let us try our best to follow Him in a meditative way and to have an encounter with Him, which is the most important thing in our lives. If we miss this encounter with Christ, dear brothers and sisters, we are missing the point -
– with the accompanying tragic consequence that our life becomes emptied of meaning.
As we enter the Holy Week, let us pray for the grace to walk with Christ and to encounter Him. Reading the chapters 11 to 16 from the Gospel of John will be a very enriching experience which can facilitate such an encounter. Thus having truly accompanied Christ in His Paschal Journey, and within ourselves, putting away the characteristics of those who were probably hostile or indifferent to Him, let us take on the characteristics of those who stood close by Him beneath His Cross. We can then assuredly hope that when we celebrate Easter, we will also experience the power of His Resurrection and start living a life filled with passion, purpose, love, joy and peace.
John E. John
on Monday, April 6 at 4:31PM