Sunday, March 20, 2016

Reflections for Holy Week, Part 1

Monday – Bruised Reeds and Smoldering Wicks

In today's first reading from the prophet Isaiah, we hear that the Suffering Servant upon whom the Spirit of God will rest and whom God will send to bring justice upon the earth will be a gentle soul. He will not cry out in anger or shout in the streets. Nor will he break bruised reeds or snuff out smoldering wicks.

Instead, the prophet implies, this Servant will deliver his message in the depths of people's hearts, with peace and quiet love. He will deal tenderly with the broken and crushed, mending them rather than snapping them. He will strive to preserve even the slightest spark of spiritual life, the tiniest glow of interior fire, the most minute hint of virtue.

This Servant, of course, is Jesus, and although Isaiah wouldn't have known it at the time, the Holy Spirit Who was speaking through the prophet definitely did. That's why Isaiah was able to paint such an accurate portrait of our Lord as the One Who seeks the lost, whispers His love in the depths of a soul, heals the cracked and shattered, sustains the weak, and longs to enkindle a bright fire in every human heart.

Tuesday – Betrayal

“What you are going to do, do quickly.” Imagine the anguish in Jesus' heart as He spoke those words to Judas. Jesus loved the man sitting before Him. Judas had been His disciple from the beginning, and Jesus had always known that he would be the one to betray Him. But when it came right down to it, when it was time for the betrayal to actually happen, Jesus' heat must have nearly broken.

Were there tears in Jesus' eyes as He watched Judas leave? Did He want to call out and stop him, to convince him somehow not to do what he planned? Did He wonder if there was any hope left at all for the man He still considered a friend?

But Jesus let Judas go. He realized that Judas had made his decision. God had given him free will just like every other human being, and he chose to turn away from God and accept the enemy that had entered into him. He paved the way for his own downfall. Whether out of greed or disillusionment or for some other motive, Judas was ready and willing to betray Jesus.

What Judas didn't know, however, was that God would bring good even out of this most horrible act, a good like the world had never seen before, indeed a victory over sin and death that would bring salvation to the whole world.

Wednesday – Listening and Speaking

“The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.”

A well-trained tongue. One that knows which words to speak and when to speak them. One that can say just the right thing to lift up the tired and depressed. One that stirs people to action. One that spreads the message of God to His people.

“Morning after morning He opens my ear that I may hear...”

The one who speaks must first listen. He must hear God's word with the ears of his heart and the ears of his mind. He must concentrate closely on the message God has for him and make sure he understands. He must reflect on what he hears and recognize that it is a great gift from God, Who opens his ears in the first place as a grace. The words he hears are the words he must speak.

Listening and speaking. God calls all of us to listen to His words and then speak them to others with great love.

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