“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” (MT 26: 15)
We observe the same situations in every generation. There is always a temptation to “hand him over to you.” For a different currency, people leave the faith for a better job, for an easier life, safety, and other reasons. We experience a lot of hate these days in my country; people always give reasons, only Our Lord was innocent, and people will always find reasons, even Judas. Only love wins: “you alone are compassionate with our errors.”
“Hail to you, our King; you alone are compassionate with our errors.” (Verse before the Gospel)
“Peter said to him, ‘Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.’” (JN 13: 37-38)
This is our human nature. People are sometimes like St. Peter—they love, they are sure that they will do everything because of their love, and several years later divorce (sometimes because finally they found the true love, and again…). St. Peter came back because he kept rituals; he went fishing like he was used to and was courageous enough to “jump into the water” to be with Our Lord immediately and reconfirm his love. Keep the rituals with your spouse, and rituals will keep your relationship.
“Hail to you, our King, obedient to the Father; you were led to your crucifixion like a gentle lamb to the slaughter.” (Verse before the Gospel)
“They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with him.” (JN 12: 2)
I like this simplicity, the real friendship—“they gave a dinner for him there.” Sometimes the elementary gestures are so important: time spent together, a good meal, simple talks, sharing ideas and emotions, enjoying company… a meal spent with friends happened just a few days before Our Lord’s death, and He wanted it. The most important things will happen this week, and Jesus relaxes and enjoys the company of His friends. Friends are important in our lives.
“Hail to you, our King; you alone are compassionate with our faults.” (Verse before the Gospel)
“She has done what she could. She has anticipated anointing my body for burial.” (MK 14: 8)
Little Teresa from Lisieux used to say that she had an eagle’s heart in a sparrow’s body. We could have great plans for Holy Week, but we can’t go to the church; we want to visit our families, but we are in quarantine; we’ll be happy to spend more time on reflection and prayers, close to our spouses and children, but we need to take care of our older parents. Many times in our lives, we have plans and dreams, and we can’t do them. But we can do the same as the woman from today’s Gospel did: “she has done what she could.” It is good to remember this strategy: whenever we can’t do what we planned, we can still do “what we could.” Sometimes only the good intention will be enough.
“Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.” (Verse before the Gospel)
“So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews, but he left for the region near the desert, to a town called Ephraim, and there he remained with his disciples.” (JN 11: 54)
The last days of Our Lord He spent “with his disciples”; how important it was for Him and them. Being with Him, listening to Him, learning from Him gave them “a new heart and a new spirit.” Their way is not finished, they are not perfect, they will make mistakes, they’ll fail, but Our Lord’s grace will protect them. This coming week we are asked to be closer to Him, maybe less present in “public,” maybe “near the desert,” but as much as possible, close to Him.
“Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.” (Verse before the Gospel)
“If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (JN 10: 37-38)
We do a lot of “works.” In our every work, there is a person behind it. Agere sequitur esse—doing follows being. People may not know us, but when they see our gentleness and respectfulness, our selflessness in giving, our creativity and joy, how we protect our relationships and how we defend people, as well as the unity of our families, they can be inspired just by “the works.”
“Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life; you have the words of everlasting life.” (Verse before the Gospel)
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it is done to me according to your word.” (LK 1: 38)
We know how important it is to recognize our identity: who we are. When we accept our identity, our vocation and our mission, we know what to do, where to go, how to react; we are leaving God’s life within us. Our Lady had questions and discerned what it all might mean in her situation, but finally accepted and fulfilled Her mission: “may it be done to me according to your word.” We are spouses, parents, friends, and believers; when we know who we are, we can do things rightly.
“The Word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory.” (Verse before the Gospel)
“So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.” (JN 8: 36)
Our freedom comes from Our Lord; He made us free. We can love free of expectations, free from rewards, free from our idealistic visions for our spouses. We can be a free, creative, and joyful gift of self. When we surrender our hearts to Him, when we accept our vocation and mission, we “will truly be free.” Expectations and compromises, lack of gentleness and respect doesn’t bring any good things to us.
“Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.” (Verse before the Gospel)
“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone because I always do what is pleasing to him.” (JN 8: 28-29)
How perfectly married couples understand this: I always do what is pleasing to him/her. Maybe not always, but they know perfectly how beneficial it is to be a gift of self, to be free, creative, and joyful in being the unconditional gift of selves. There is nothing happier than the happiness of our spouses. This is true love. And this is Our Lord’s love to His Father and His Father’s love to Jesus. And we are invited to imitate it and follow this example.
“The seed is the word of God; Christ is the sower; all who come to him will live forever.” (Verse before the Gospel)
“Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She replied, ‘No one, sir.’ Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, do not sin anymore.” (JN 8: 10-11)
Our Lord came to save us, not to condemn. He knows that we are sinners, that we make mistakes, that we fall and fall again. He is not interested in our sins, our mistakes; He wants us to go, to grow, to be united with Him, and to be holy. He reminds us: “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather in his conversion, that he may live.”
“I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord, but rather in his conversion, that he may live.” (Verse before the Gospel)