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Tuesday in Holy Week

To be sure, the gospel writers do not agree word for word on the chronology of the last days of Jesus’ life and what took place exactly.  For instance they disagree as to whose home Jesus wa sin when Mary bathed his feet in expensive perfume. But here are a few thoughts for the day – The Tuesday in Holy Week.

Collect

O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Matthew 21 v 33-46

Feeling safe somewhere – feeling that we have a home, is one of the most important aspects of human need along with food and water and the company of other human beings. When people become displaced through war, political unrest or natural disaster not only do they lose a roof over their heads, they loose that sense of security that comes from having somewhere safe to live. Maybe its easy to take our homes for granted and although it can be good to get away, it is always good as many of you will probably agree with me, to come back home.

Our Lord famously once said  “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have a nest but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” . He will have grown up in Nazareth we imagine is a secure household – but we know very little about where he lived the years of his young adult hood – and once he began his public ministry he became nomadic – travelling and staying with friends sometimes – no doubt on occasion sleeping in the great outdoors.

It must therefore have been of much comfort to him to have the friendship of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus during those last days of his life.

The final week of Christ’s life, at once the most tragic and yet the most triumphal part of  his life, was spent in Bethany and Jerusalem. On the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mornings he travelled from Bethany to Jerusalem returning each night after a day of frenetic activity in the city. Bethany, means house of the poor and whilst the three siblings might have been poor in a material sense they were certainly rich in their generosity towards Jesus. On the Monday of Holy Week we read how Mary had lavished Jesus with the expensive perfume – worth a whole years salary and wiped his feet with her hair. Judas – and probably the other disciples bitterly criticized Mary for that act of kindness – but Jesus was the only one who praised her – reminding them all that they wouldn’t have him with them for much longer.

How her kindness – indeed that of the whole household, must have sustained him in the coming days.

After his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on what we know as Palm Sunday he retired to Bethany just two miles from Jerusalem. Many people staying there, arriving for the Passover Festival in  the nearby city.  On the Monday in Jerusalem he drives out the traders who were buying and selling in the Court of the Gentiles – more controversy.

One reason why so many people had waved those palm branches at Jesus could have been that the word about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead had heightened the interest in him. This miracle worker – surely – many were now thinking – surely he could be the Messiah?  As the streets of Jerusalem are cleared of palms from two days earlier and preparations made for the Passover –Jesus is once again preaching in the temple.. With people beginning to hail him as the messiah – the Jewish leaders are feeling more and more uneasy about him.

Back to the city on the Tuesday – the day after Mary’s extravagant act of love, he is questioned by the Jewish leaders – and it is during this interrogation that he utters the severest condemnation of the Scribes, Pharisees and Saducees – the leaders and teachers of the Jewish faith. He does this condemnation partly in parables – we heard the parable of the vineyard  and its owner whose servants were harshly treated by the tenants of the vineyard – his son being killed in the parable. It was obvious Jesus was talking about himself and how he would be treated by the religious aunthorities of the day.

“ When the chief priests and Pharisees heard his parables they saw he was referring to them – they wanted to arrest Jesus but were afraid of the people who looked on Jesus as a prophet”

It wont be long before we read  ” Now the Passover and Unleavened bread were two days away – and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize him away by stealth and kill him”

Jesus already knows what is happening and is prepared for a confrontation.  The Old Testament has prophesied it in the book of the prophet Isaiah fromChapter 53

3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

The story continues tomorrow – the Wednesday in Holy Week – a story of bitter betrayal.

Mary with ointment

Jan van Scorel (1495, Schoorl – 1562, Utrecht)

March 30, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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