Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lent: Women of Jerusalem

Luke 23:26-31
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All of Jesus' disciples fled. They had good reason to believe they would also be killed if they were identified as being close followers of their beloved yet condemned Teacher. Apparently only John, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus returned before the third day. Yet on His path to the cross Jesus finds women waiting for Him, loving Him, supporting Him as much as they were able to. Hanging and waiting for death to come Jesus finds women again at the foot of the cross, unable to rescue Him yet also unwilling to leave Him. Women were not protected against being killed, so they ran a risk in identifying themselves so clearly as being with Him. They chose love over fear, compassion despite the danger to themselves.

Christ Jesus is suffering so much that His sweat becomes like drops of blood and He is too weakened to carry His own cross along the whole way to Golgotha. Yet He tells the women mourning for His pain and path to death not to weep for Him but rather for themselves. Even in the midst of such intense suffering, He focus on others, including the pain waiting in their future. Both Jesus and the women are looking past their own troubles to show love toward the other. Most people I know (like myself!) focus on themselves even in the good times, much less in moments of intense trial. We struggle (or don't even bother making the effort) to see beyond our own lives to the needs and joys of others. Suffering intensifies this tendency, yet this encounter between Jesus and the women on the path to Calvary shows us that it is possible to overcome this weakness. So look around you today at another person. How can you join in the joy or sorrow that individual is experiencing? How can you express love to one person today that needs to know you care despite the concerns of your own life? Then take it a step further: when you experience a trial of any type, decide to say a prayer in the midst of your suffering for another person. If you are experiencing a strong temptation, pray for someone else to resist the temptations they face. If you are experiencing pain, pray for someone with a chronic or terminal illness. If you are experiencing sorrow, pray for someone else who is also grieving a loss. Imitate Christ by looking beyond your own life to love someone else.

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