God is a patient teacher
A Reflection for Tuesday of Holy Week
“Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
Yet my reward is with the Lord,
my recompense is with my God.” (Is. 49:4)
How do Christians celebrate Easter without Holy Week? I started attending these sacred liturgies in high school after my confirmation. Each year we relive the final days of Jesus’ life, and each year we enter it differently—because we are different.
As a teenager, I hated Judas. How could he do that to Jesus? He knew what they would do to him. And Peter, who was privileged enough to know Jesus face to face, denied him three times? And, good grief, the disciples fell asleep in the garden, squandering these final moments with our beautiful Lord.
That’s right. As a teenager—and beyond, really—I was super judgy. During the Triduum, I would wonder where everybody else was. I mean, there’s just one Holy Thursday service. And we had five Sunday Masses at our parish, so shouldn’t the church be packed, standing room only on these high holy days?
God is a patient teacher. I don’t hate Judas anymore. These days, I think, “Poor Judas.” Maybe he thought he was doing the right thing at the time, only to realize afterward how gravely he had sinned. God knows I’ve done that. To know in his final moments that he betrayed his friend, to be overcome with such grief and to have lost all hope of redemption.
And Peter. I believe I know the love he feels for Jesus, at least to some degree. He professes his love for Jesus with the words, “I will lay down my life for you” (Jn 13:37). What did Peter feel after denying the Lord that third time? Perhaps he thought of those words he uttered after his first encounter with Jesus, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8). After all that time together, perhaps he felt that way again: unworthy of God.
Some years, I feel like Holy Week comes too soon. I feel as though I have not spent enough time in prayer, or I have neglected my Lenten disciplines. I simply have not changed as much as I should have. Lent only comes once a year, after all. And I squandered it.
But God works through broken people like me and Judas and Peter. God makes me good enough. When I fall, God does not abandon me. Sometimes, to walk with Jesus, I have to let him pick me up, again and again. He always does. That’s one of the reasons why I love him so much.
Get to know J.D. Long-García, Senior Editor
What are you giving up for Lent?
So, this year, it is more of a “doing” than a “giving up” Lent for me. I’m drinking more water, getting more exercise (it’s a low bar right now) and reading Learning to Pray: A Guide for Everyone, by America’s editor at large, James Martin, S.J.
Do you cheat on Sundays?
Is it cheating to celebrate the resurrection? Just kidding, no. No cheating.
Favorite non-meat recipe
Plantains. Fried, boiled, mashed, whatever.
Favorite Easter Song
“Christ is Risen,” by Matt Maher