Hello, friends! I hope that you are having a wonderful March. Even though we said we were going to take this whole month off from blogging, something is burning inside of me during this Holy Week and I wanted to share just in case you needed to hear it, too.
One of the artists I follow posted this status update on Palm Sunday and it stopped me in my tracks:
I like to think I’m a pretty open minded person and a good judge of character. I’ve been on the receiving end of some judgment in the past (haven’t we all?) so I try to extend a little bit of extra grace to others before jumping to conclusions. At least, that is what I tell myself.
Aliza’s words hit me pretty hard. You see, I’d like to think that I would be one of the women cheering Jesus and waving palms as he passed by in the celebrations now known as Palm Sunday. I’d also like to think that I would have been one of the women following his every move and providing love and support where I could as he was beaten, crowned with thorns, and nailed to the cross. It’s pretty easy to assume that we would have been there for Him knowing what we do now, right? But how do we know for sure what we would have done? I mean, Peter, one of Jesus’ own apostles, was convinced that he would never in a million years betray his best friend. Yet, we all know what happened…he ended up denying that he knew Jesus three times the very night he was taken into custody.
What if I had decided to believe the words of those around me, saying that Jesus was making everything up and that he was not truly the Son of God? What if I gave into the peer pressure and was one of the ones shouting “Barabbas! Give us Barabbas!!” to Pontius Pilate when given the option to let an innocent man go free? It’s a heart sinking, gut wrenching, insanely humbling feeling to reflect on these questions. I realize that I might not have acted as awesomely as I hoped, had I actually been there with Jesus.
Aliza’s post caused me to be much more introspective this week than I have ever been in the past, and I’m seeing Holy Week through an entirely different lens. In recent years, I have found it harder to connect with the true gravity of what this week means. This year especially I’ve been feeling particularly guilty about not doing Lent well. I gave up chocolate, which is the quintessential Catholic Lenten sacrifice but let me tell you, it has been a real struggle. I suppose that’s the point and it’s highlighted my dependency on sweets more than I thought it would (another post for another day). But besides staying true to my Lenten promise, I haven’t done much. We didn’t make it to confession. I’m still struggling to pay attention to Mass as I spend most of it walking around the front vestibule trying to figure out if little M is hungry, tired, or just overwhelmed. I lost my patience on more than one occasion over these past 40 days.
In short, I was not perfect.
Yes, no one is. But taking a few moments to look back over the past 40 days has made me painfully aware of my shortcomings. I am embarrassed and a little sad that I am spiritually limping into Triduum.
However difficult it is to admit this, I am feeling a really strong pull to share it here. Maybe you are feeling this way too? Perhaps you’re not quite prepared for what the next few days are bringing.
I have good news for you: it’s going to be okay. Really, it will be okay. Do you know why? Because God loves YOU, no matter what. He loves you more than you will ever know, even when you feel the most unworthy of love. Even when you feel like you have failed Him, that you haven’t done enough for Him. He doesn’t keep tallies on you. He won’t hold it against you. He just wants to love on you. It is up to you to accept it.
These next few days are heavy, they’re meant to be. They are also meant to be a reminder of just how much God loves us. He sent His only son to die for us, so that we may be saved. And you know what is even more profound for me? Jesus loved us so much that he accepted his death on the cross, even when he pleaded with God to let the cup pass by him. Let’s not forget his agony in the garden. He died for us, guys. He died for us.
I recently heard Grace Wins by Matthew West on the radio and was nearly brought to tears. I so relate to the first few verses, and I love how the words of the chorus remind us that grace wins. God wins. Love wins, every time. Thought I would share a few verses here:
In my weakest moment I see you
Shaking your head in disgrace
I can read the disappointment
Written all over your face
Here comes those whispers in my ear
Saying who do you think you are
Looks like you’re on your own from here
Cause grace could never reach that far
But, in the shadow of that shame
Beat down by all the blame
I hear you call my name sayin it’s not over
And my heart starts to beat
So loud now, drowning out the doubt
I’m down but I’m not out
There’s a war between guilt and grace
And they’re fighting for a sacred space
But I’m living proof
Grace wins every time
No more lying down in death’s defeat
Now I’m rising up in victory
Grace wins every time
You can listen to the whole song HERE.
No matter what your Lenten journey was like this year, I encourage you to take on these next few days with a fresh heart. Prepare yourself for the ultimate celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.