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St. Pauls – Monday in Holy Week – 3/29/21

The readings for this Monday of Holy Week are all about trust.Yesterday we heard the story of Jesus’ death; tonight we are asked to trust that it was not in vain. We are being asked to place our trust in a God whose purposes are greater than anything we can imagine, and in God’s people who constitute the  cloud of witnesses, those past and present people of faith, who bolster our own faith when we struggle to maintain it through the trials of life.

Drawing from the ancient self-revelation of God to Moses on Mt. Sinai, as the great I am, we hear an echo from Palm Sunday’s I am God and there is no other. Isaiah and the psalmist insist insist that God’s love is steadfast, that the God who created the universe is also committed to sustaining it and one day setting things right. Justice is God’s goal; Justice is what God intends to bring into the world. Our epistle and Gospel readings remind us that God has chosen to include humanity in this great work, not only through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Christ, but also through the lives of those who believe in him.

Isaiah’s familiar prophecy of Jesus as the suffering servant gives us a model of how God works in our world, not through an arrogant assertion of power but through a patient hope. This prophecy is of great use to us in our Holy Week journey if we remember that it;’s not just about Jesus, but about us. Isaiah is describing anyone of God’s faithful who willingly and humbly takes on suffering as the cost of giving witness.

The concept of trust can be romanticized into irrelevance, but today’s readings are dauntingly  realistic. Seeking justice always comes at a cost. Jesus knows he must be put to death, but can endure the cross for the sake of the joy to. come. And that’s a difficult proposition for us. We are willing to endure the pain of such things as childbirth and chemotherapy when we have evidence that the outcome is worth the struggle.  But when there seems little reason to trust, when our lives are on the line and unwelcome changes obliterate our sense of God’s presence, it is hard to rely on trust alone.

We do not journey through Holy Week alone; our cloud of witnesses includes Sarah and Abraham, Jacob, Ruth and Naomi, Mary and Joseph, all of whom were called by God to take uncertain and even dangerous paths in order to further God’s purposes in bringing forth a savior. And surely, Mary in this evenings Gospel is with us. In a Jerusalem tense with fear and political intrigue, she stands up for mercy. In a time of ugliness, surrounded by the brute force of the empire, she stands up for beauty. Recognizing even before the disciples that Jesus will soon die, she commits a prophetic act of love, anointing him with fragrant oils, overcoming the stench of death  with the scent of paradise.

Mary’s love foreshadows, prophesies, Jesus’ love. She anoints the feet of the one who will wash the feet of his disciples. She pours herself out on the one who will pour himself out on the world. Jesus’ love will cost everything he has. He holds nothing in reserve.

Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor? Because the love of God is priceless.

LET US PRAY

We praise you, Lord, for the gift of trust.

We thank you for the gift of so many people throughout the ages 

who have placed their trust in you 

and who now inspire us with their example of faithful and loving service. We thank you for your unfathomable love revealed to us in the scriptures, in the law, and in the life, death and resurrection 

of your son Jesus Christ, ini whose name we pray. 

AMEN+