Monday of Holy Week
"The Lord is my light and my salvation." Psalm 27
You country folks might laugh at this city kid. I find that driving on country roads at night is a bit scary. And, of course, there is that very familiar experience of walking down a hallway or into a room in which there is no light only to bump into things that I couldn’t see. Light is critical for sight.
This Monday of Holy Week has a very clear message for us in Isaiah’s reading. It is God’s desire that His Servant bring justice to all the nations. The recognition of the dignity of every man, woman or child is His goal. It begins with me: "The Lord is my light and salvation." Am I willing to bring that truth to others.
So many things get in the way of seeing and recognizing that dignity. Without much thought or attention there can be an automatic judgment that someone isn’t worth much because of racial background, the area of town one lives in, the status of a job, the religious faith one lives by, the external appearance emphasized by style of dress, or tattoos, or pierced lips, ears or belly button or hair styles. There are more. We lump individuals into groups. Very easy then to avoid having to deal with the individual person.
The individual person is the focus of God’s attention. "Love one another as I have loved you." Our journey with Jesus during this Holy Week will help us to see. "The Lord is my light and my salvation." There is no stranger in His eyes. Externals will not blind Him. There is always the individual. Jesus would ask you and me to respect each individual. Interestingly enough, to respect a person we need to "look back, take a second look" which is the root meaning of respect (re-aspicio…to take a second look). Quick looks end up in quick judgments. If you and I ever have light to see individuals it is by Jesus’ own example. He was challenged with "Why are you eating with sinners?" "I did not come to call the righteous but sinners." Oh, He knew whom He was dealing with. He saw deeper. He loved more deeply. His patience was longer. Can you and I accept this and share it with others. Especially during this season of love and grace that has lead us to Holy Week and the awesome truth: "Greater love than this no one has but to lay down his life for his friends."
Will you be my light? Help me to see?
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P. is the senior priest at Immaculate Conception Parish in Chicago, Illinois.