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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

Tuesday, March 26, 2024: Letting Ourselves Receive What Is Given

Tuesday, March 26, 2024:

Letting Ourselves Receive What Is Given

Reflection by Mike Boucher, Spiritus Christi


Consider these words from the first reading from Isaiah 42: "Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased…Upon whom I have put my Spirit; I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you.”


While the wider Christian faith community interpreted these words from the Hebrew scriptures in light of Jesus, it’s important to remember that these were not written about Jesus. They were written about the ‘servant of God’ which, in my humble opinion, could be any of us.


It’s likely that this passage was the one being cited when the people heard God speak after Jesus’ baptism, and as I have mentioned elsewhere I hope that we can hear these words as applying to us.


What does it feel like to read these words and think of yourself: "Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased…Upon whom I have put my Spirit; I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you.”


How easy is it to believe that: You are upheld. God is pleased with you. God's spirit is in you. God takes you by the hand. What gets in the way of believing that?


I have us start here, however, because I think our gospel takes this even further.


In John 12, Jesus is at his friends’ house (Martha, Mary and Lazarus) when Mary “took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair…Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, said, 'Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days' wages and given to the poor?'"


Whatever we might think about Judas, his words speak to a reality that I know that I often encounter in my life, namely, couldn’t we try to do more for the poor and suffering? How can we enjoy anything when there are those in need?


Jesus responds to Judas by saying, “Leave her alone,” and does not chastise Mary for tending to him in this way.  Jesus accepts her generosity and lavish outpouring.


Let's let that last line sink in. Jesus accepts her generosity and outpouring.


I draw two lessons from today’s readings that I hope we can carry with us through Holy Week.


First, you (and we) are all worthy, loved and beloved. I really hope that we can feel that, because this theme is central to this week. God loves you, God loves all of us and God loves all of creation. And God wants us all to be free and cared for. This is what Jesus tried to show us through his life, and his mission was to remove all the barriers that stand in the way of true human/non-human community.


Second - and this may be a hard one for a lot of us - Jesus let himself be cared for. I know that I was raised with and have taken in so many  negative messages around “receiving” or "being taken care of." I was raised to be (and our culture emphasizes) "independent.” Furthermore, I'm supposed to be the one giving and taking care of others...


Jesus, however, models something different.


Of course Jesus knows that the money could have been spent otherwise, and yet he accepts her beautiful gift and appreciates her generosity. He lets someone do something special for him and really takes it in.

In my life I know that this is a continued area of growth for me - to let others do good things for me (or say good things to me) and just receive them without qualifying or feeling like I need to "give back"immediately.

What I have come to learn over the years is that my inability to receive what another is trying to give me can actually be a barrier to intimacy and mutuality.


I read recently that the word “free” derives from the more ancient word friya which means “beloved." Those who are free experience their own sense of belovedness, and bring this to others in their life.

Jesus was free, and he wanted to make sure that others were too. This meant giving and it also meant receiving what others had to give to him. As part of his freedom, he allowed himself to have moments of community and connection. He let himself be tended to. He let himself be cared for. Without apology or guilt.


AND then he made sure that he passed that on - especially those who might not feel it.


May we go and do the same.

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