Saturday after the Second Sunday in Lent
Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!” Luke 22: 52-53
The narrative of the Passion of Jesus goes by very quickly, and the words are so familiar to us that it is often hard to hear the story and absorb all that is going on. In a matter of moments, Jesus receives the kiss of betrayal, speaks to Judas, hears his followers ask if they should strike out with a sword, and without awaiting an answer, they cut off the ear, not of Judas, but of a slave of the high priest, and just as quickly, Jesus rebukes them and reaches out, replaces the ear, and heals the slave. So fast! In the next breath, Jesus asks the temple officials if they have come to arrest him with weapons, as if he were a bandit, and just as quickly, they do just that. Continue reading March 23, 2019
Friday after the Second Sunday in Lent
When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. Luke 22:49-51
When we see someone we care about potentially come in harm’s way, our human instinct is do what we have in our power to try and avert harm from coming to that person. People are, like their Creator, inherently good, even though sin, at times, prevents that good from being realized all the time. Jesus’ disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane on that night were not an exception. Though they have heard Jesus say that he was going to suffer and die, when the events leading up to those events were getting underway, they revert back to their basic instincts—without even waiting for Jesus’ response, one of them already had a sword in hand. And even as quickly as Jesus could respond, the ear was already severed. In the heat of passion, it’s easier to just be our base selves; it’s easier to be follow instincts than what we may have heard or been taught, even by Jesus. Yet Jesus, also aware of his basic instinct as our Savior, responds from what is true of his nature—he speaks against the violence and begins to heal, even in the midst of the danger to his own person. Continue reading March 22, 2019
Thursday after the Second Sunday in Lent
While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?” Luke 22: 47-48
What a stunning observation and judgment from our Lord—the kiss, love’s symbol of affection and intimacy, twisted into betrayal. This kiss marks the moment of Judas’s spiral into his self-made ending, his descent into the horrors of his remorse and suicide. There must be no sweetening up of Judas’s legacy as the Gnostic Gospel of Judas wishes to do. No! Evil is evil. If there were ever an unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit, this infamous kiss might qualify.
And—not “but” or “nevertheless”— and Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, yes for Judas’s kiss, for my kisses of betrayal. Continue reading March 21, 2019
Wednesday after the Second Sunday in Lent
“And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them, Why sleep ye? Rise and ray, lest ye enter into temptation.” Luke 22: 45-46
St. Paul tells us that Luke was a physician and his concern both to diagnose the fundamental disorder of the human soul and prescribe its antidote in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is replete throughout his account of the Gospel. Likewise Church tradition describes Luke as an artist who, if he didn’t in fact ‘draw’ the Blessed Virgin Mary, is to be credited with limning a more vivid account of our Lord’s life, teaching and passion through his employment of rich literary contrasts and word pictures. It is Luke alone who gives us the story of Christ’s conception and birth from the perspective of His mother, who draws the strong contrast of hard-heartedness and compunction in the repentant and unrepentant thieves, who records the poignant parable of the Prodigal Son, his forgiving Father and his envious, unforgiving brother. Continue reading March 20, 2019
Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. Luke 22:41-44
In my experience, most Episcopalians tend to have a visceral and automatic preference for the traditional version of the Lord’s prayer, (i.e. “Our Father, who art in heaven,” as opposed to “Our Father in heaven”). There are probably a variety of perfectly sensible reasons for this, but it’s a little unfortunate, because the contemporary version is actually a more accurate translation of what is found in the gospels. In particular, “Save us from the time of trial” is much closer to the Greek than “Lead us not into temptation.” Moreover, the contemporary version of the Lord’s prayer provides an illuminating lens for understanding Jesus’ final hours. Continue reading March 19, 2019
Monday after the Second Week in Lent
He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Luke 22:39-40
“As was his custom” are the words that jumped off the page for me when I read this passage. Earlier in Chapter 21:37, we are told “everyday he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called.” Jesus had an established pattern to his life. In many places in Scripture, we are told that he often retreated to places alone after a hard day of ministering to the people, in which crowds were pressing in on him and begging him to heal them. It was his custom. It was his spiritual habit. He needed to be alone, to re-ground himself, to refocus on his mission and purpose of his life.
What are your spiritual habits, the habits of your heart? Do you take the time in the busy-ness of life to step away from it all? Do you have any spiritual customs that you can’t live without? Continue reading March 18, 2019
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.