From Ash Wednesday to Spy Wednesday to the End
This day of Holy Week---Spy Wednesday---takes its name from today’s Gospel in which Judas “spies” an opportunity to betray Jesus, inquiring of certain Jewish chief priests: “What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?” The very question reflects a shriveling of this Apostle’s soul, that some thing could be exchanged for Someone. For Judas eventually to cast away the “thirty pieces of silver” and then his own life demonstrates in a horrific way that truth which should give each of us pause along the course of what we call our life---that abysmal dissatisfaction is the ultimate result of rejecting the One Who is the Incarnate Way, Truth, and Life. There is no gaining the world in the loss of one’s soul.
But today’s Gospel also indicates the mysterious intersection of the Lord’s own triumphantly salvific plans with the nefarious plotting of Judas. Jesus too is on the look-out for new opportunities to further His own interests, which are precisely those of His Heavenly Father. Christ thus sends His disciples “into the city to a certain man,” with the good news: “My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with My disciples.” Perhaps the host of the Last Supper remains unnamed to allow each of us the privilege of sharing his surprise and joy---not unlike that of the greedy tax collector Zacchaeus when, at the outset of his conversion, he first heard Jesus insist: “I must stay at your house today!” (Lk 19:5b).
Today I conclude the written reflections that I began on Ash Wednesday. In my meditation over the course of this Lenten season on how Christ has come to me in my infirmities, I have hoped to share with you how the Lord Jesus has brought the Paschal Mystery more deeply into the house of my life. It has been a journey that has taken me away from home and brought me back again, in a type of “apostolic loop.” Embracing the discipline of writing each day has been for me more than just a substitute for preaching on the daily readings; it has also been a personal accounting to the Crucified and Risen Lord of His goodness to me---both an examination of conscience and a proclamation of His grace and mercy.
Several people have asked me to continue this blog, apparently having grown too accustomed to this practice of Lenten penance! I end it here where I do, first because that is what I promised. Quite simply, I have said what I was given to say; this limit feels right for this purpose. It is a perennial temptation in any form of communication to say more than needs to be said, for longer than it needs to be said. More profoundly, these essays were always meant to be preparatory for entering the Sacred Triduum, where the Lord speaks most directly to us through the Liturgy.
On Holy Thursday, I resume my preaching of the Gospel---live and in person---which I have always held to be at the happy center of my Holy Orders (cf., Code of Canon Law #762: “Sacred ministers, among whose principal duties is the proclamation of the gospel of God to all, are to hold the function of preaching in esteem since the people of God are first brought together by the word of the living God, which it is certainly right to require from the mouth of priests.”). In the wise and loving providence of God (and of my pastoral calendar conformed to it), there may be future opportunities for writing projects. But for now---as of tomorrow---let the preaching resume! Deo gratias.
Although this completes the original series of Lenten meditations, I hope in the next days of the Sacred Triduum 2015 to offer some additional meditations of thanksgiving and summary update for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. The timing of these will depend on my other pastoral responsibilities!