Monday On Monday of Holy Week we see Jesus having dinner with some close friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. These are the kind of friends whose lives have been knit together in a very powerful way. Mary and Martha both have shown great faith when comes to Jesus and as for Lazarus he has been risen from the dead! Not only are they witnesses to Jesus ministry but they are close friends as recorded in John 12:2 where is says, “They gave a dinner for Him there.” In other words they treated Him like family, it was place where Jesus could be himself, and Jesus could be at home in their home!       It’s possible that he could put aside the rigors of ministry and the demands that are on Him, enjoy a meal, and even sleep in familiar surroundings. According the Gospel of John, during this dinner Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus with costly perfume (by today’s economy that would be in excess of $50,000) and pours it on Jesus’ feet, then wipes them with her hair. Her actions say, “I know what you are facing; I know that this entry into Jerusalem will lead to your death. And I know you have to do this.” I imagine that her actions would have been a great gift to Jesus. Someone, a friend, knows that darkness is up ahead. This family of siblings is willing to acknowledge the truth, and in so doing they give Jesus a great gift. Each of us has had times in our lives when we needed a friend who will not minimize the reality that we have to face.     We all have need for a Martha or a Mary or a Lazarus; for a friend who will let us be ourselves, or just let us say, “I am scared to my mind.” Or “I am going to suffer.” Or even “I am going to die.” When we come across such friends, we know something of the presence of God in our midst, God through Christ Jesus as a friend who allows us to speak the truth in love, to be the truth in love, all by God’s grace and for one another.   So may it be our prayer today… O God, help me to remember that Jesus calls me His friend, and may I seek to love as He loves. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday In John 12:46 Jesus says, “I have come as light into the world.” John also tells us in chapter one and verse ten: “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.” This world is confused and disoriented, we are in a world that finds it hard to perceive what is good and true and lovely. And this world belongs to the One who brought it into being. Strangely enough, Holy Week, with all of its moments of violence and brutal politics, it is also a time for remembering that Jesus comes as a Light into this world. He comes into our lives when things are suddenly troubling by forces beyond our control, when we feel like we may lose our grip on reality, when everything seems out of place. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it,” writes John in chapter one and verse 15. Jesus is tried on trumped up charges, found guilty by a corrupt political system, and put to death because he challenges the powers that be. So many of the folks were dishonest in his death, but a few stand by him at the end as he dies. Even in this dreadful sequence of events, there is light. There is the promise, through Jesus, of God’s enduring and inescapable presence in every valley of the shadow of death—those of our own making and those that come despite our best efforts to hold them at bay. Father God, may the Light of the World be known to me and through me this day, in my life, in my household, in my community, in my actions. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Wednesday “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.” ~ John 13:34 Over the years I have had to fortune to give witness to love in action while folks were living out there last days here on earth. In other words I had a glimpse of the kind of love that Jesus is speaking of on this Holy Wednesday. I watched as friends and family sacrificed to be there no matter what. They didn’t view their actions as that they had to be there because “they had cancer” or “they were another case” but rather because they genuinely loved them. What does love look like? What does the love look like that Jesus exemplifies, this love that will not let us go? It looks like being with one another in sorrow and in joy, in moments of hope and heart wrenching times of tragedy. Being “with” one another through the many twists and turns of life, allows us to exemplify God’s own life in the world. When we are with one another in darkness and light, sorrow and joy, we are living the new commandment.   Father, May you God who call us friends grant us the grace and the courage to befriend one another, loving each other until the end.  Amen.

Thursday “Then Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”         —John 13:5 The Thursday of Holy Week is known as “Maundy Thursday,” referring to the Latin word for commandment, mandatum. In these last days of Jesus’ life, he both states and decrees his new commandment—that we love one another as he has loved us. So, to show the disciples what he means, he washes their feet. Their feet would have been dusty, cracked, and wrinkled. A servant would normally have taken a basin and washed the feet of guests arriving for a meal. Jesus abandons all roles that they know Him by and kneels before each disciple, washing their feet. It is scandalous. Peter cannot take it and says to Jesus, “You will never wash my feet.” (John 13:9) Jesus leads him to see that this washing of one another is a way revealing divine tenderness, the servant-hood of Jesus. All of us need to have our feet washed. All of us need to wash another’s. On this night in which he is betrayed by Judas, Jesus also has a last meal with his disciples. He shares bread and wine with them, saying “Do this in remembrance of me.” A washing and a meal—both shared in common, both offered by Jesus as signs of the love that will not let us go, of the divine life embodied in him. There is a kind of an imagery of the family, maternal care in these last actions—washing, feeding, and teaching. Jesus knows that his time is short, and so he desires to give the disciples the essence of his life and his work: Love one another. Father God and Savior, may we know you in the washing, and in the breaking of the bread. Amen.

Friday “Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” —John:19:30 A day of great somberness, Good Friday calls us to do what the disciples could not and that is to join Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus and John at the foot of the cross. Good Friday invites us to enter that most excruciating moment of standing in our own helplessness, unable to stop the dying. This day calls us to be present with Jesus and with one another in those distressing moments of suffering and death. A mystery is revealed to us this day—the mystery of divine love that infiltrates every moment of human life and experience. Today we are brought to the foot of the cross to see God’s cheerfulness in this self-offering. The face of divine Love shines through Jesus’ dying flesh, and God’s own life, in Jesus, is united to ours. “The Word became flesh and lived among us,” as the Gospel of John declares. (John 1:14) In a way far beyond our human capacity to know or to understand, God is in Christ, knowing our sufferings from the inside out, sanctifying the blood, the sweat and the tears, converting the cross from an instrument of death to a tree of life. God grant me the grace to stand at the foot of the cross, to adore You, O Christ, and to bless You because by your cross you have redeemed the world. Amen.