Monday of Holy Week
Our readings for this Monday in Holy Week are so rich and filled with wonderful imagery, some of the best that we can find in Isaiah. Of course it is Isaiah who ushers in for us the very beginning of Holy Week immediately after Passion (Palm) Sunday where, in the Gospel, we journeyed with Jesus from the Passover Feast to Calvary.
The words he speaks to us today are in such contrast to the image of the crucified Christ on Calvary:
Here is my servant…whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my Spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations,….(and)
establish justice on the earth,
I, the Lord, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the
eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live
What amazing imagery, a far cry from what artists over the centuries have portrayed when they try to show us what the crucifixion of Jesus must have looked like. Yet that is what is to come and Isaiah lures us first into the glory and the beauty of the mission entrusted to Jesus by the Father. We get just a glimpse as we only see in the Gospels very rarely the intimacy that exists between the Father and the Son. And then only a few short days later the glory and beauty are gone and we are immersed in a moment that is filled with darkness and death.
Then in our response we pray: The Lord is my light and my salvation …we need these words if we are to stay with Jesus in the midst of his Passion and death and not run away as others did. We need to remember that even in our greatest darkness the Lord is our light.
Even Mary in Bethany seems to sense that something terrible is coming during what was surely Jesus last visit to the home of his dearest friends. Mary, through the anointing, gives Jesus great comfort and honor just days before he would celebrate the Passover, be betrayed, arrested, and humiliated by the abandonment of those he loved so very much. Yet, such pristine and pure love was too much for Judas to understand! John’s Gospel calls him a thief! How could he comprehend things clearly if he was a thief and concerned with money rather than with the Lord? After all that time together and Judas still could not see the Lord standing before him.
These are special days we are entering into. What a great opportunity to accompany the Lord from the Hosanna’s to the shouts of the mob; what a profound invitation to walk with the Lord each step of the way this Holy Week and to know the power and the terrible beauty of his Cross.
Fr. Pat Brennan, C.P. is the director of Saint Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.