After another night in Bethany, Jesus and his disciples returned to the temple area. Once there, the religious leaders prodded and questioned him, trying to find fault in him. They demanded an explanation of his authority, and sought desperately to catch him in a lie. What subtle mechanisms do we employ to corner the Lord? Why is it that with no evidence, we assume his promises are empty? He welcomes our questions, he has nothing to hide, and yet we scramble to expose an insincerity in him. Like the woman at the well who was “offered a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14), his covenants wash over us, and we snap back with complications and impossibilities. You want water, Lord? Well, you don’t have a bucket. The cistern is deep. You are offering peace, Lord? The world is in chaos. There’s no peace to be had. You love me, Lord? I’m a broken vessel. Your grace will slip through my hands. You want to lead me into the promised land, Lord? The desert is vast. And I’m dying of thirst, Lord. I’m dying of thirst. We qualify. We grumble to hide our fear. We challenge and explain away the goodness of our God because he can’t possibly offer it freely. Not to me, anyway.
In this time of distancing and isolation, we are tempted to maintain a distance with God. We use those questions and qualifiers to keep his love just beyond reach, but a distance from the lover of our souls is never his doing. He invites, and we avoid. He approaches to meet our eyes, and we look away, worrying that if he really saw us he would change his mind. But this is a lie which the Lord breaks down again and again in his parables on the Mount of Olives, perhaps no more pointedly than when recounting the widow’s mite. The Lord speaks to a total self-gift — even if the sum of yourself seems meager and frail — amounting to more than riches and treasure given thoughtlessly. Offering from your poverty speaks volumes over skimming from your excess, and there’s a beautiful humility to be found in handing over even the parts of yourself you always feared would be rejected.
Jesus, there are so many parts of myself that I’ve hidden or left behind over the years- important parts which I’ve abandoned for reasons too painful to revisit. But I see in your eyes a vision of wholeness. I see myself integrated and treasured in you, all of those parts reforged and welcomed home. I want to believe your words with my whole heart, mind, and strength. Let that desire strengthen me as I storm the distance I’ve kept from you. I want my feet firmly planted at the foot of your cross next to your Mother. I want to be brave in offering myself. Thank you for always inviting, always approaching, and always loving.