Thursday, August 11, 2022

Self-Emptying Love

As I look at the blinking cursor, knowing what I want to write about, I realize that in the “library” of the happenings of my life, I don’t have a story to share this week. But I do have the following meditation, to be read as a prayer during the Triduum:

“Lord, I can be so cold to your salvific presence as I hurry about living the moment and becoming so sufficient unto myself. There is little wonder that I find it hard to bring myself to prayer – to use faith to know you, divine love to live in you, and theological hope to trust in you. I approach you now, wanting only to be a more faithful disciple of your Kingdom.”1

Hmmm. “…a more faithful disciple of your Kingdom.” To repeat an idea I shared several weeks ago: “One of the challenges posed by the season of Lent is how to be a disciple in the face of hardship and affliction. Jesus stated that the test of a true disciple is related to the cross: ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’ (Mark 8:34)”2

There are two women whose actions point to Jesus’ self-emptying love: the widow who gave two copper coins and the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with ointment:

“[Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)

“While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial.  Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her. (Mark 14:3-9)

Both of these women performed their actions because of love. They loved so profoundly that they gave everything they had to the person they loved the most: God. Discipleship requires that we take up our crosses and lay down our life because of our love for God. The laying down of our lives entails a radical, generous and complete gifting of ourselves. This action, done over and over again, carves a space in our hearts that we can surrender to the mercy of God’s grace and love. These women knew this. It is the same invitation that Jesus gave to the rich young man when he asked him to give all his riches away and follow him. The rich young man could not respond to the call, so he went away sad.

You have a few more days before the glorious celebration of Easter. Open your heart to the amazing love and mercy of Jesus! Deepen your faith to know Him and respond to His love so you can love Him more and share the hope that He brings with others.

If you do this, I guarantee that the remaining days of Lent will truly be grace-filled.

1 https://www.regnumchristi.org/en/daily-meditation/ for Feb. 14, 2022

2 Blinz, S., People of the Passion, 2018. New London, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, p. 5.

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, The Catholic Witness

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