Throughout Lent, we’re sharing excerpts from Lenten Grace, an inspiring journey through the season’s Gospel readings. Check back on Holy Thursday for a new reading. Also, you can get this entire six-volume series of daily Gospel reflections at 20% off. Get it now.
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“This is my body.… This cup is the new covenant in my blood.…”
An interesting contemplative exercise would be to jot down in two separate columns the words said by Jesus and those said by everyone else in this Gospel passage.
The disciples and religious and civil leaders say things such as: “Who is the greatest?” “Lord, I am ready to go to death for you!” “Look, here are two swords. Shall we use them?” “If you are the Messiah, tell us.” “This man perverted our nation.” “Crucify him!” (cf. Lk 22:24–23:21).
Jesus says, “This is my body.… This is my blood, which will be shed for you.” “The leader is the one who serves. I am among you as the one who serves.” “You, Peter, will deny me.” “Pray not to enter into temptation.” “Judas, do you betray me with a kiss?” “If I tell you who I am you will not believe me.” “Father, forgive them” (cf. Lk 22:23–23:34).
The words of the disciples and leaders are characterized by self-protection. They are the words of people seeking to plan and control their lives from within their own framework or perspective. They are words of violence toward others. Their words reveal their desire to forfeit their identity for the safety of the rush of the mob. Jesus’ words, on the other hand, show that he has made himself vulnerable, that he will hand himself over for the sake of others. Jesus wasn’t trapped in his own fear of death, but knew himself to exist within a reality more spacious than his own fearful neediness, something ultimately good in which his life was held, beloved, even were he to die on the cross.
In a word, perhaps that was just it. The attitude of the disciples and leaders in the face of threat was one of non-acceptance and fear. Jesus’ attitude was one of acceptance despite his fear.
Jesus, when my plans, security, or future are threatened by the cross, I want to protect myself, like the disciples. I want to be first, successful, important, beautiful, happy. I think that if I plan things just right, everything will lead to success. I hold on to everything so tightly, and in grabbing things I crush them. It was only after your crucifixion and resurrection, when you forgave the apostles, that they realized that something greater was planned for their good, that the cross was not a threat and couldn’t ultimately destroy them. They were beloved and safe. They discovered that they could trust you. And so can I. And so will I.
I am beloved and safe.
Download Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections to guide you throughout this lenten season. You can get this entire six-volume series of daily Gospel reflections for 20% off. Get it now.