A Heart and Existence for Others

Tonight begins the Holy Triduum, the three day celebration of Jesus’ passion, death, and Resurrection.  Each of the liturgical celebrations over the next three days illuminates Jesus’ heart for others.  Let’s take a look at several moments of Jesus’ life that we will hear over the next few days in light of what it teaches us about the heart of Christ.

Sharing a Meal with Friends:

One of Jesus’ last moments is sharing a meal with friends.  We see him reclining at the table with his friends, fully aware, as the Gospels remind us, that he knew was what coming:

  • Matthew 26:17 – “My appointed time draws near”
  • Matthew 26:21-22 – “Amen I say to you, one of you will betray me”
  • Mark 14:18 – “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”
  • John 13:1 – “Before the feast of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father”

Even with the knowledge of his time on Earth coming to an end, we read how Jesus eagerly desired to eat this Passover with is friends before he suffered (Lk 22:15) and how he loved “his own in the world and he loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1).

Jesus spent his last time on earth, surrounded by those he loved, and offering the simple gift of friendship and relationship to his disciples.  The same gift of friendship and relationship he offers each of us.

Washing his friends’ feet and the Promise of the Advocate:

Jesus stooped down and washed the dirty feet of his disciples.  As he does this, we see yet again Jesus’ heart of service and compassion.  As he washes their feet, he offers the disciples a model to follow:

“If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.  I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (Jn 13: 14-15).

Jesus shows us that being fully loved by God means having a heart for others.  He cares so deeply for his loved ones that he not only offers them a model, but he also offers them the great gift of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.

What Jesus offers each of his disciples, he offers us.  The gift of a model to follow and the gift of the Holy Spirit helping us live out the model offered to us.  Even in his last moments on earth, Jesus shows us the way God loves us – deeply, compassionately, and with dignity.

Begging in the Garden:

I think we sometimes forget the passion with which Jesus begged for what he knew was coming to pass.  In Luke’s Gospel, we read of him being in such agony that his sweat became like drops of blood. In this we see Jesus’ struggle between his human side and his spirit.  Yet, even in his pain, out of Jesus’ love for God and for the all of us, he submits to God’s will.

His Trial, Passion and Death:

When I made the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, it caught my attention that Jesus remained silent when he was brought before Herod and was questioned.  As I prayed with the scriptures, I almost wanted to scream, “Jesus, speak up! Defend yourself.”  It is counter-intuitive to my human nature, and I would venture to guess most of our human natures, to be placed on trial and questioned and not defend ourselves.  Jesus, however, remained silent.

His silence along with all he endured through his passion, epitomize Jesus’ love for us.  He endured what he did out of love for us.  He did this to show us God’s heart for each of us and the depth that we are loved by God. God loved us enough to sacrifice his son on our behalf.

As we gaze at Jesus on the crucifix over the next few days or as we venerate the crucifix tomorrow during the Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, let us remember that it is a sign of:

  • God’s love for us
  • God’s gift of mercy
  • God’s willingness to counteract human actions
  • God’s willingness to go to any extremes on our behalf
  • God’s sacrifice for us

Let us remember that the crucifix is a sign of hope, because as we all know, Jesus’ story did not and does not end with his death, but it continues with his Resurrection.

The end of our Fully Loved: Encountering the Heart of Christ Series:

As we’ve journeyed through this series, we’ve looked intimately at what Jesus reveals to us about his heart and God’s heart for us.  My hope and prayer is that as we enter the Holy Triduum, we carry with us the knowledge of the depth of God’s love for us.

Easter Sunday is only a few days away.  It will be a day full of joy as we celebrate the fact that darkness and evil did not win.  God’s goodness and light and love won, and this is why we have reason to hope.

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