In the gospels for Monday to Thursday in Holy Week Jesus is not with the crowds in the temple area, sometimes hostile, sometimes friendly. He is with “his own” at a meal. In Bethany six days before Passover he eats with those he loved: Martha, Mary and Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead. In Jerusalem before he dies he eats with the twelve who followed him. “His own.”
During the meal in Bethany, Mary anoints his feet with precious oil in a beautiful outpouring of her love. At the meal in Jerusalem, on Thursday, he meets betrayal. The gospel readings for Tuesday and Wednesday offer a harsh picture. Judas betrays him for thirty pieces of silver and goes out into the night; Peter will deny him three times; the others flee. Jesus faces suffering and death alone. Friends that followed him abandon him.
The gospels are not just about long ago; they’re also about now. We are “his own” to whom he gives his life on a cross, in the waters of baptism and in the Bread at the table. Are we unlike the others? Are we sure we will not go away?
We think saints exaggerate when they say they are great sinners and question themselves, but they know the truth. That’s the way St. Paul of the Cross described himself in his account of his forty day retreat as a young man:
“I rejoiced that our great God should wish to use so great a sinner, and on the other hand, I knew not where to cast myself, knowing myself so wretched. Enough! I know I shall tell my beloved Jesus that all creatures shall sing of his mercies.” (Letter 2)
Be my rock of refuge
a stronghold to give me safety.
For you are my rock and my fortress,
O God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. Ps 71