If you have read today’s Gospel for Monday
of the Fifth Week of Lent, you saw Jesus’ life-saving forgiveness and kindness
toward the woman caught in adultery. Her horror of facing death by stoning was
transformed into grateful relief, as the accusers slunk away and Jesus said,
“Neither do I condemn you.”
Have you noticed that during his journey
to the cross, the only people whom Jesus addresses are women? Traditional
stations suggest Jesus met his blessed Mother and Veronica. Although we have no
recorded words, it’s easy to imagine the gazes of compassion between Jesus and
his mother and with Veronica. As he meets the women of Jerusalem, Jesus feels
the pain that will be theirs when Jerusalem is destroyed.
Another story about a woman occurred two
days before Passover when the chief priests were plotting to arrest Jesus.
Jesus was at a meal at a house of Simon the leper. A woman poured an alabaster
jar of nard on Jesus’ head. Though onlookers scolded the woman for the waste,
Jesus appreciated her kindness. He said, “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” (Mk. 14:8-9) Three paragraphs later in Mark’s gospel we
read of the institution of the Eucharist. Unlike the institution of the
Eucharist in Luke that includes “Do this in remembrance of me” there is no
request about remembering Jesus in Mark’s gospel. Instead the reader is asked
to remember the deed of the woman. Service and Eucharist are inseparable, as
seen again in John’s gospel when there is no record of the institution of the
Eucharist; instead we read about humble service in washing feet.
You are probably missing the reception of
the Eucharist, along with your parish family. As you pray a spiritual
communion, consider ways to be of service today. Those acts are inseparable
from the Eucharist, for you and the recipient are an extension of Jesus Chris
the Lord. We are all the Body of Christ. Amen.