Monday, April 18, 2011

Themes for this Holy Week - Monday in Holy Week

While was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, ‘Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.’ And they scolded her. But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’ (Mark 14: 3-9)

Courage - It takes courage to score a winning goal in a pressure packed NHL hockey game. Brandon Dubinsky took on four Washington Capital players and the goalie to score with 1:39' left in the third period. It was impressive watching him change his direction and flip the puck into the net for his New York Rangers.

I don't often use sports analogies 'cause they don't work for some readers. Sports is more about commercial entertainment than it is about Christian theology. But, hey, I'm following the Stanley Cup Playoffs because I can't ice skate at all and I think that playoff hockey is very exciting, even if you can't see the hockey puck. I kinda know what it's like to compete in individual and team sports. Your fans and teammates are looking for you to come through, to do something extraordinary when the game or match is on the line.

I'll tell you something else that takes courage... telling your friends to back off when they wrongly chastise you or someone that is helping you. Jesus' followers complain about the cost of the perfume that the woman uses to anoint his feet. They don't like the fact that she's there tending to his needs. They are complaining, perhaps with empty stomachs and angry hearts, that's the woman is wasting a valuable commodity. They don't understand what's going on here. Perhaps they understand all too well.

Jesus quickly and confidently rebukes them. He speaks with enough authority to let them know that they are out of line. His message values her compassion, her understanding of the road that lies ahead for him in the last days to come. The women senses something too. She's like the man living with demons outside of the tombs. She share's something in common with the Roman Centurion who will observe Jesus' death on Good Friday. She, like the other two Gentiles, realizes that it's an honor to be present with the Son of God. She's demonstrating courage too. She's slipping past every social barrier and every principled defense to attend to the needs of the one who redeems her, and us. Elizabeth Nordquist writes:

She has done what she could. As a woman she had no seat of power conferred on her from which to make decisions, or even enter the important conversations about the Jesus Way, about the current state of politics or the economy. Therefore, she begins where she is: What do I have? What can I do? What risks am I willing to take?

Companionship - We all need someone to break bread with more often than not. Teamwork is the backbone of a good hockey team and friendly discipleship. We need someone to carry us when the storms become too great. 13
Jesus Christ realizes that companionship comes at a great expense. Companionship means letting someone else break you heart. Friendliness requires of us to turn the other cheek. It means letting someone wash your feet when they are dirty, your feet as well as the other person. One of Holy Week's messages is that God will continue to abide with us even when we chose to flee from God, especially in the most despairing moments, for God and us alike. Becoming a person's "companion" means that you will travel this pilgrimage of life with them through all of its delightful, scary, boring, intimate, and unexpected moments. This is the sort of way we should live with everyone and everything on the planet. We do not; thus, we travel onward through Holy Week so that we can one more live like The One who courageously entered into Jerusalem onto the cross.
We re-learn through him who loves us as companions throughout eternity.

Dear God, We need your courage to passionately push back against our friends and enemies who distract us from following you. We need friends who will travel with us and hold us when we can't seem to walk any further. We need Jesus' Word and Sacraments to see us through these tough days to come. Holy Spirit, renew us with the strength, solidarity, and stubbornness we seek so that we will become more like Christ with each breath we take.

Blessings Along The Way -

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