Malankara World

Today in Passion Week
Meditations, Reflections, Prayers

Passion Monday

Monday of Holy Pascha Week
The fig tree is a symbol of the Jewish nation, which had the outward appearance of fruits, because they had followed the letter of the law. But they lacked fruit in that they did not abide by the Spirit of the law and "neglected the weightier things of the law."

In His Steps - A Lenten Series

Today: Mary: Extravagant Love

Monday in Holy Week
This morning, also, Jesus goes with His disciples to Jerusalem. He is fasting, for the Gospel, tells us that He was hungry. He approaches a fig-tree, which is by the way-side; but finds nothing on it, save leaves only.

Bible Reading:

Monday of the Passion Week

Opening Prayer:

Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, though in our weakness we fail,
we may be revived through the Passion of your Only Begotten Son.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The Readings (alternate):
Isaiah 42:1-7; Psalm 27:1-3, 13-14; John 12:1-11

Daily Meditation:

Strengthen and protect me in my weakness.
We read the first Suffering Servant song in Isaiah.
We imagine the powerful scene at Lazarus' home -
Jesus had wept as he peered into Lazarus' tomb;
now his sister Mary anoints Jesus' feet for the journey to his own tomb.

Whatever we do today,
we might memorize the simple Opening Prayer and personalize it,
asking for the strength we need,
the protection we depend upon, for our journey ahead.

I have called you for the victory of justice.
I have grasped you by the hand.
I formed you and set you
as a covenant for 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

Monday of Holy Week Reflections
by Laurence Freeman OSB

We began the Holy Week retreat on Bere Island yesterday. Between the liturgies, the meditation times, the times of reflection and sharing on the elusive and unforgettable symbols of the Passion, we will try with all of you who have been reading these reflections to prepare for the three great days.

Each of these spiritual practices - meditation, liturgy, lectio - reinforces the others. Like a dance they swirl together without competing or clashing, like the divine communion itself.

The deeper we go with their help the more we realise our wholeness. We become less divided and conflicted within ourselves and so between ourselves and others. The journey deeper is a healing of everything in our lives that has pained or damaged us, holding us back from the fullness of being we are designed for.

But the focus is Jesus not ourselves. If we focus on ourselves the imminent danger is that we get stuck in self-centredness (often without knowing it). But to be focused on him is to elude the trap of egotism and fall into the great freedom of the true self where we are one with him; and then we fall into the even greater freedom of the divine communion in which all that is human is divinized.

The focus on Jesus shows us that it is not through a series of triumphs and gains that we do this but by defeats and dispossessions. It is not the way the ego likes to go but it is the secret path direct to the Kingdom.

Monday Reflections from All Hallows in Leeds, England

Reading: Mark 14.1-10

Reflection

I am the woman who anointed Jesus. I am unnamed, as many women of my time are unnamed and unnoticed. But not by Jesus - he speaks to us, takes us seriously , argues with us , unselfconsciously accepts us - he is different from the other men. I've been following him for a while, inspired by his teaching. I have felt that he is increasingly troubled, struggling with something he knows he must do or face. Many of his women followers have noticed this change in him. He has become more annoyed with his inner circle's failure to comprehend what he is trying to tell them. I and some of the other women decided we needed to tell him, needed to let him know, that we could see his pain, his fear, the struggle he is going through, and although we are not sure, we too fear that it is his life that is at stake. We decided to act and to reach out to him. We bought nard and decided that we would anoint him - we would acknowledge him as our King. And also tell him that if he fears he will die, we know that fear too, we lovingly prepare him for facing death.

Our law says that for us to do so would make him ritually unclean, but we know in our hearts that Jesus would pay no heed to such nonsense. We know too that we were casting ourselves in the role of prophets by doing so, but has he not taught us to speak out, to say what we feel? We gathered the money together - some of the women following him are quite wealthy - and we bought the perfume - it cost the equivalent of a labourer's wages for a year. It was easy to get to him at Simon's, because Simon the leper is part of our group of women, healed lepers, possessed and others who meet together sometimes to talk about Jesus' teaching - the inner circle of men around Jesus find us a bit odd, and I think threatening.

---

We are the men at the table, and all we have to say is: who does this woman think she is?! She has broken the law, and spending all that money on poncy Roman affectations is disgusting when so many are poor. Does she think she's some kind of prophet? We know Jesus is our Messiah and our King - we don't need her to tell us that with her pseudo-ritualism - but what is Jesus going on about death and burial for, if he's the Messiah who will triumph? He won't make many friends or get many good Jews following him if he carries on behaving like that and letting women touch him in that way - can't he see people think it's odd and unclean? He's too familiar with the women.

All in all he's behaving very strangely, and we don't understand what he wants of us or what he is talking about half the time.

---

I am Judas, and I am disappointed and angry. I thought this guy was really going to take on the Romans and get them out, but he's just another religious weirdo riding on the back of the people - my Zealot mates were right. And accepting the gift of nard that was imported from India by the Romans! Why didn't he sell it and give the money to the poor instead, or put it in our kitty? As treasurer I know we need it, but no, instead Jesus praised her for doing it. So much for being on the side of the poor. I've had enough.

---

I am Jesus. I am tired of trying to explain to the Twelve about how I feel things are going to unfold. They don't seem to hear. I increasingly feel that I am going to have to die soon: God is calling me to face this possibility. And I am scared, and feel so alone with it. That is until she came forward - Mary, part of that interesting group of women, healed lepers and possessed who worry the Twelve with their radical unorthodoxy. Peter says they go a bit too far and are doing my cause no good.

But she understands, and through her touch and her action she has let me know. I feel she is saying to me 'No, you are not mad to feel and think what you do - I can see too where all this may lead, I can see the burden you bear - let me reach out to you I do understand.' It is such a relief, and it is beautiful.

I worry for Judas, though: he is so bitter and angry. I've noticed he has been distant with me lately. He is full of so much anger and hate, he still can't forgive the Romans for what they did to his family. O God, please don't let him come to harm; bring him healing for his wounds; don't let his bitterness destroy him.

---

The possible feelings surrounding this group are complex and the above is merely speculation. But there is no doubt that the woman has understood Jesus. Intuitively she has responded to what Jesus has been saying - it is she who understands what he believes is going to happen to him. And lets him know through lovingly anointing him - communicating through touch what perhaps is impossible or too risky to speak out about in words.

She has done a beautiful thing for him.

Ray Gaston, drawing upon Women Believing by Ruth Musgrove

Prayer

O Jesus, stretch forth your wounded hands over your people to heal and to restore, and to draw us to yourself and to one another in love. Amen.

Intercessions:

Let us pray to Christ our Savior, who redeemed us by his death and resurrection:
Lord, have mercy on us.

You went up to Jerusalem to suffer and so enter into your glory,
-bring your Church to the Passover feast of heaven.

You were lifted high on the cross and pierced by the soldier's lance,
-heal our wounds.

You made the cross the tree of life,
- give its fruit to those reborn in baptism.

On the cross you forgave the repentant thief,
- forgive us our sins.


Closing Prayer:

God of love,
My prayer is simple:
Your son, Jesus, suffered and died for me.
I know only
that I cannot have real strength
unless I rely on you.
I cannot feel protected
from my many weaknesses
until I turn to you
for forgiveness and your unalterable love.
Help me to share this
strength, protection and love with others.

May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
Amen.

Sources:
Creighton University Online Ministries - Praying Lent
The World Community for Christian Meditation (www.wccm.org)
All Hallows in Leeds, England
Lectionary of the Syriac Orthodox Church

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