Posted by: matt25 | April 21, 2011

And So It Ends and Begins

In every ending we find a beginning, and so now as we have come to the end of our 40 days of Lent and we begin the sacred Easter Triduum. Three days of devout prayer and liturgy that is really a single celebration of the heart of our faith. The Holy Thursday evening Mass for Catholics is called the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and we remember what Jesus did on the night of His last supper. We enter into something that is eternal and outside of the constraints of time. It stands at the heart of our faith as surely as the Passover does for our Jewish brothers and sisters.

It was at this last supper, that Jesus gave us our “memorial feast” as a “perpetual institution”. An offering of his body of his body and blood, made truly present for us whenever we celebrate the mass. St Paul reminds us (1 Cor 11:23) of this gift which is central to the account of this meal in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

John Gospel account shows us something different though. (John 13:1-15) He tells us how Jesus humbled himself, even though He is the teacher and master, he takes on the menial task of a servant the washing of feet. And he makes it clear that this was not only an act of love and service but also a model that we are to follow. We are to live our lives in service to each other. This was not an easy concept for the apostles to grasp. Peter is the prime example.

I love Peter, don’t you? He is so slow to understand at times that it make it much easier for me to relate to him. He resists what God asks of him because he doesn’t get it. It doesn’t make sense to him and flies in the face of what he thinks should happen.

I do that too. I want to hold on to my patterns of behavior and beliefs. I don’t want to change. I still want to be selfish with my time and resources. I don’t want to think about the poor in third world countries and how the way I live impacts upon them. I certainly don’t want to be distracted by the poor who live right here, eat at the Friendly Kitchen, and get their clothing from the Garment Gallery. As long as I am making a public confession, I’d also rather stay angry and annoyed with a certain person that upsets rather me than look past their prickly nature to see a child of God who acts out because they are hurting.

I resist but I have another model to follow in this Gospel story. Peter resists but when Jesus tells him that it isn’t optional to share in his inheritance he responds with a child-like faith that is filled with enthusiasm, and abandonment! “Not only my feet, but my head and hands as well!”

That’s how I want to respond to Jesus! I want to be willing to give more than He asks of me. I want to be willing to give my all. But I need your help. I need you to minister to me as I minister to you. Then in turn we can minister together to a world that is desperate for the touch of God.

In every ending is a beginning. In the end of our resistance to answering the call of God in our lives we experience the beginning of new growth in love, compassion, and understanding.

Some time ago I came across a prayer that is meaningful to reflect upon and pray throughout the year but especially tonight.

Let us pray together.

Dear Lord,

I know you want to wash my feet.

I know my fear, my resistance.

I’m not clean. I’m embarrassed to admit to myself all the ways I am dishonest, self-indulgent, negligent, defensive, and failing in my relationship with you, with others – failing to love.

Wash me. Let me accept, embrace, how your self-giving sets me free from my sin and offers to heal me.

By your being broken and given poured out and shared, make me whole.

Let my heart be freed of its anxiety and fear, its anger and lust. Fill me with joy and peace, that I might give you praise.

Send me to wash, to forgive, to free, to nourish, to embrace and give life.

By your grace, may all those that I meet, especially the poor, know that your mandate has touched my heart, and the heart of your church whose celebration of your love sustains me.

Amen

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Responses

  1. This made me cry this morning. It touched me deeply. My pride says I ought to be one of those who minister to the poor, but my reality is that I live in poverty, both material and spiritual. I hate it, altho I can do nothing about it but share my pittance with others in the hope that I may gain spiritually. Pray for me cousin!
    Lisa

    • There are all kinds of poverty and the Gospels teach us something about that in the story of the widow’s mite It was not she who was the poorest of those in the temple that day. If you share from your need then perhaps you are not as spiritually poor as you think. I will continue to pray for you as I rely upon your prayers for me.


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