Monday, March 30, 2015

The Victory of Justice

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 in darkness. Isaiah 42:6-7

So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12:7-8

If we are in darkness, let the Lord be the light that leads us to salvation.  If we seek light elsewhere, we will end up remaining in darkness like Judas.  If we answer yes to Christ, then we will open the eyes of the blind – including ourselves like Lazarus, Mary and Martha.   

As we get to the highest holy days of the Church, we can contemplate the dichotomy of victory and defeat.  Isaiah sets up the picture of victory.  The first reading foretold the manifestation of the Nazareth Manifesto – the mission of the Church that is synthesized in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  These exist side-by-side in our tradition. 

However, as we move into the Gospel of John, it appears that Judas is forcing us to choose one side over the other.  Shall we put a primacy on serving the poor (the corporal works of mercy) or on burying the dead (the spiritual works of mercy)?  The notes to the New American Bible explain that “Jesus’ response reflects the rabbinical discussion of what was the greatest act of mercy, almsgiving or burying the dead. Those who favored proper burial of the dead thought it an essential condition for sharing in the resurrection.”

The Lenten season has brought us to the precipice of the resurrection.  The season also brings us to what appears the ultimate defeat that Jesus must pass through before he emerges victorious over death and darkness on the other side of Easter.

The irony is that when Jesus conquers death, his words ring false.  We through the Eucharist and the Resurrection, we will always have him with us.  Literally, though, Jesus is addressing Judas.  And the words ring true for Judas the thief and traitor.

In today’s dinner scene, the roles change very little from the earlier fateful encounters in Bethany.  One sister, Martha, remains at service to the body.  The other sister, Mary, remains at the feet of the Lord blessing his feet with the oil in service to the spirit.  It is in the authentic actions of both that we see through the false witness of Judas – who remains in darkness and serves neither.

What is your favorite spiritual practice of Holy Week?

We need to be both Martha and Mary this holy week and throughout the year.  They show us two sides of the coin to become contemplatives in action.   As Cursillistas, we need to have our spirituality and intellect engaged as we go about doing the nitty-gritty action work of the world – serving the needs of the body and the spirit. 

There are times like this week when we must stop and reflect on the mysteries and then go about doing the hard work that is revealed in our reflection.

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