Monday of Holy Week
LENTEN EVENING REFLECTION ON THE READINGS OF THE DAY
(Monday of Holy Week)
Br. Brillis Mathew
Psalm 27:1-3, 13-14
Today, we have two beautiful readings to reflect on. The first reading is from the Book of Isaiah (ch. 42, v.1-7), which is titled
“The first Song of the Servant”.
I would recommend that you continue to read t
he Gospel of John and the Prophet Isaiah
42-53 during these days.
Prophet Isaiah spoke about the Lord who is to come. The responsorial psalm is Psalm 27, titled,
“The Lord is my light and my help.”
In today’s reflection, I will again focus on encountering Jesus, which is what will give meaning to every aspect of our lives. Without this encounter, our life will lose its meaning. Therefore, I would like to ask all of you to read the Gospel of John slowly, and in such a way that you allow yourself to experience this encounter with the Lord and with His Spirit. Today’s Gospel (John 12:1-11), is set to
days before the Passover.
Let us try to imagine what must have been going through the mind of Jesus.
We all came to live, but Jesus came to die.
Jesus knew that his time was imminent and that His days to be crucified were approaching closer each passing day. The Scriptures also witness to us about the many sufferings that the Messiah had to face throughout his life and that He was used to praying to His Father
with loud cries and tears
Let us revisit John chapter 11: there
that Jesus had
with Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
John 11:33-35, Jesus was deeply moved and disturbed.
He loved them very much and they
loved him very much.
He wept when He saw their pain.
Mary and Martha loved their brother, and losing their brother
a great pain
, after which, however,
they experienced great joy. The close experience which this family had with the death and resurrection of their loved one was in a certain sense also preparing them, and also others around them to face what was going to happen in the life of Jesus Himself.
To celebrate the Resurrection of Lazarus, the family hosted a great party and invited Jesus and His disciples for dinner. I would like to invite you all to imagine as if you too were there at that banquet. Such a spiritual journey to two thousand years ago, is made possible through the Spirit of God, which moves among us even today. John 4:23-24. During my last visit to the Holy Land, I had the blessing to celebrate the Holy Mass at Bethany, which for me was an especially moving experience. In the Gospels, Bethany was the center of hospitality. We read that Martha waited on them – in fact, the guest house which the Pope stays is called
, after this great saint who welcomed Jesus into her home. But her sister Mary, who is of quite a different character from her sister, does something extraordinary: she brings in a pound of very expensive ointment, pours it on the feet of Jesus and wipes them with her hair, thus filling the house with the scent of the ointment. All in all, she makes a gesture of the
deepest and purest love for Jesus
Let us reflect on what we too encounter during these days, which is nothing but God’s great love for us. God loved us so much; therefore we too should love God, then ourselves and others, and also allow others to love us too! Sometimes, however, we can become “mechanical”, almost like robots who move about and do things without love. We should not forget that we are all created
to love and to be loved
. Where there is love, there is Jesus. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; 1 John 4:7-8; John 13:34-35. Jesus said,
“If you love, you will be My disciples.”
During this time, it is also nice to question ourselves: this particular time which we spend in our own homes and limited spaces, are we able to find new and creative ways to love one another?
In love, we are always in debt no matter how much we give. At the end of the day, our life is going to be measured
only by the love which we have
put into everything we do
. It is not going to be measured by our intellectual knowledge or the amount of work which we have done. Though these can all play a part,
without love, however, everything else is useless
. Without love, we miss the point! Sometimes we can become worried about rituals and other external things “I did not say this or that prayer, or I did not visit this or that church etc..” One of my friends who was preaching in Rome used to say,
“Very often we are worried about what is happening around the altar rather than what is happening on the altar.”
This is the time for us to look deep within ourselves: am I really a loving person? Am I lovable? God has created all of us in His great love, and therefore, we need to love! Let us start loving! Let us open ourselves to the Spirit of Love! At the same time, love is the most misinterpreted word in the world today. This is why St. Paul said in Philippians 1:9-10 that
our love should keep on growing in all wisdom and discernment
. Discernment is a key word which is very important.
We are all called to love.
In the midst of that real agony, Jesus allowed Himself to be loved. We should not live for ourselves. Most of the time, if we are not really happy, the reason is that we are living for ourselves. The moment we live for others, we will find real joy and happiness. Living for others is, in a certain sense, living for Christ. One of my friends from Ireland once told me while I was studying in Rome, “Brillis, when you become a priest, forget about the homilies you are giving – people will forget them. People will forget everything what you say;
but they will never forget how you make them feel.
We have to speak the truth in charity; we have to live our life in love because that is what Jesus showed all of us. In our families, we have to be creative. In Colossians 3:18-21, St. Paul gives us wonderful advice:
“Wives should love husbands; husbands should love their wives; children should obey their parents; and parents should not irritate their children.”
We should not use force; love cannot be forced.
Jesus is Love. Just imagine that wonderful moment in the Gospels, which happened two thousand years ago. Sometimes we may find ourselves in possession of a corrupt mind. The person who had a corrupt mind was Judas: his heart was burning, and he was irritated. At the end, that irritation came out:
“Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”
Sadly, we may hear such remarks around us frequently. In such instances, we should turn our attention from the words that people make to the root cause within them from which they spring.
If we have the habit of criticizing others frequently, it is good for us to realise that our voices do not really come from within our own deepest selves, but rather from the baggage which we carry, from a damaged conscience, or spiritual or intellectual experiences in our past lives which may have damaged us. Let us be ourselves! This does not mean,
“I got to be me or I got to be free!”
We are called to be Christ (Galatians 2:20).
No longer I, but Christ is living in us.
We are called to live like Jesus. We are called to love and to be courageous like Jesus; we are called to be hopeful like Jesus.
Let us have a closer look at the character of Judas Iscariot, who was unhappy with the expression of love for Jesus which was shown by Mary, and then makes the following statement:
Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?
(John 12:5) Judas uses
charity to the poor
as a pretext to steal money for himself. Pope Francis said in today’s reflection during his mass at Santa Martha
“Judas – we see his characteristics everywhere, even today – in unfaithful administrators, who appear even within many charitable organisations, where they ultimately take almost 60% of the money which is collected in the name of the poor and use it for paying the salaries of their many employees..” It is true that we should not forget the poor; however we ourselves are poor in many ways - sometimes
wretchedly, pitiably poor
, though we do not realise this.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us be open to the Spirit and encounter Jesus who is present in our midst in the Scriptures. In the Spirit, let us go to visit Him, let us experience and embrace Jesus so that this Holy Week may be for each one of us, a new spiritual experience.
John E. John
on Tuesday, April 7 at 5:29PM