Today reminds me how much the season of Lent resembles the season of Advent. Waiting, preparation, anticipation; living in the now and the not yet; the call to recognize God in the present even as we yearn for a time when God will appear in fullness and redeem all creation: the themes that draw us into the story of Christ’s birth draw us also into the story of his death and resurrection.
The season of Lent strongly resembles the season of Advent. Waiting, preparation, anticipation; living in the now and the not yet; the call to recognize God in the present even as we yearn for a time when God will appear in fullness and redeem all creation. The themes that draw us into the story of Christ’s birth also draw us into the story of his death and resurrection.
These themes are at full play in today’s passage from Isaiah. The God who fashioned all things—”who created the heavens . . . , who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it”—promises a time when creation will be restored and justice will come upon the earth.
For now, we wait. This waiting, however, is not a passive waiting. It is active. It is hopeful. It is a waiting that asks us to consider where God is calling us to work for the healing of the world now.
Today’s Gospel reading provides a powerful image of this waiting. When Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus, it is as if her whole life has been distilled into this gesture, this pouring out of this most extravagant gift. She offers no spoken words, yet with her entire being Mary proclaims a message both prophetic and priestly as she ministers to Jesus just days before his death.
Mary both anticipates and mirrors what we will see Jesus do this week: even in pain, she pours herself out in a remarkable act of grace and love. As we enter this Holy Week, she invites us to do what she did: recognize Christ; minister to him as he appears in our lives; and give ourselves to him in love, here and now.
In love, in hope, in grace, may we seek the face of Christ who waits with us.
This week’s readings take us through the depths but then into the eternal light. We walk each step with Jesus, who suffers betrayal, abandonment, and death in our place. But it is more than that. He also enters into the brokenness of our human condition and feels our pain, such that on the cross he even feels abandonment by God. He walks through the valley of the shadow of death because of God’s amazing, reckless love for us. This is the power of Holy Week. But that is not the end of the story. Jesus’ steps do not end at the cross, for he walks out of the tomb! Now we can follow in his steps and participate in his new life. He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
• Read Psalm 70. What help do you need from God? from others?
• Read Isaiah 42:1-9. Where do you see signs of God’s work in the arena of justice? Where does Creation provide signs of restoration?
• Read John 12:20-36. As you ponder the reign of God in your midst, what images call to your mind God’s presence?
• Read John 20:1-18. When have you, in love, released the life expected in order to take up the life God intends for you?
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