During the Monday through Wednesday liturgies of Holy Week, we listen to the three gospel passages that afford us the opportunity to meditate on the parts of Christ’s body that were “pierced for our sins” (Isaiah 53:5): his hands, his feet, and his heart.
In Monday’s gospel we contemplate Jesus reclining at table with Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead. There was obvious jubilation at this meal as those who were present were still rejoicing in the miracle of Lazarus being raised. Yet, in the midst of this joy, the gospel turns our attention to Mary’s solemn act of charity. Out of love and reverence for Christ, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with “costly perfumed oil” and dries them with her hair. In this Gospel, we are led to contemplate the feet of Jesus.
These are the feet with which Jesus walked to preach the Good News, the feet with which he walked on water and calmed the fear of the disciples, the feet with which he ascended Calvary to die for us. These are the feet that were pierced for our sins.
In Tuesday’s gospel we contemplate Jesus reclining at table with his disciples. It was the night before his death and his heart was “deeply troubled” because one of his disciples was about to betray him. As Jesus is troubled, Peter motions to the disciple “whom Jesus loved” to find out who was to betray the Lord. We then see one of the tenderest encounters in the entire Gospel: the Beloved Disciple rests his head against Jesus’ chest and asks, “Master, who is it?” How blessed was the Beloved Disciple to listen to the very heartbeat of Jesus!
In this gospel, we are led to contemplate the heart of Jesus. It was this heart which grieved over Jerusalem, which welled up with sorrow at the death of Lazarus, which was overwhelmed with grief in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is this heart that was pierced for our sins.
In Wednesday’s gospel we contemplate the betrayal of Jesus. Judas sets out to betray his Lord. The other disciples are preparing the Passover meal for Jesus to celebrate with them. And while they are reclining at table, Jesus tells his disciples that one of them is about to betray him. As the disciples question, “Surely, it is not I, Lord?” Jesus says to them, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me.”
In this gospel, we are led to contemplate the hands of Jesus. We see the hand of Jesus dipping into the dish with the hand of Judas. In our meditation, we are moved to grasp the hands of Christ, the hands that Judas could have grasped instead of betrayed. It was these hands that touched and healed the leper, that grasped the hand of Peter’s mother-in-law and healed her, that held the hand of Jairus’s daughter and raised her to life. It was these hands that were pierced for our sins.
In our prayer during Holy Week, let us lovingly contemplate Jesus who was pierced for our sins to save us. What wondrous love is this!
Father Michael Najim is Spiritual Director of Our Lady of Providence Seminary, Providence, as well as Catholic Chaplain at LaSalle Academy, Providence.