Lent readings 2022

These are the daily readings for Lent 2022

2 March to 16 April

These readings are taken from  "The Crucified is My Love" by Johann Ernst Holst

available as a free download from www.plough.com

Week 1 - 2 March to 6 March

 

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Day 1 - Wed 2 March - Ash Wednesday

 

The Lamb of God...

 

“The next day [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” “ (John 1:29)

 

“Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Isaac asked his father, Abraham, on that strange journey (Gen. 22:7). His father answered, deeply moved, “God will provide for himself the lamb.”

 

But the lamb that God the Lord would in fact provide as a sacrifice for the lost world was described in this way by the prophet Isaiah: “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isa. 53:7).

 

Now John the Baptist stands in the fertile Jordan Valley. Light glows in his eyes, and lightning flashes from his preaching. His disciples surround him and very mixed throngs of people listen to his words. Suddenly he is silent. Jesus of Nazareth, at that time still an unknown man, walks into the crowd’s sight. John looks at him. The Spirit of God comes over him, and he recognises in the simple wanderer the Messiah, promised and looked for with longing hearts for thousands of years, the servant of Jehovah, the Lamb of God. Overwhelmed by this recognition, John points to the approaching man and calls out the momentous words, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” This utterance has made him the greatest of the prophets. What depth there is in these words! John grasps the divine mission of Jesus and his innermost nature, will, and work. He looks into the heart of God and into the opened heavens, but he also sees the curse of humankind’s sin. He sees this burden laid upon the shoulders of this one man, who bears it and takes it away by his atoning death–and so sets the lost world free and founds a new, transfigured world. Yes, this Jesus is the pure lamb. No one can accuse him of any sin, and the Father himself bears witness, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).

 

He is also the patient lamb, for he was obedient unto death, even to death on the cross. He is the gentle lamb, for while bleeding on the cross, he prays that his enemies may be forgiven. In everything he is the Lamb of God, the holy sacrificial lamb, through whom all who believe in him will be perfected in eternity. This Lamb of God is our Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and, who loves us too with his eternal love. He suffered and died for us too, in order to make us blessed. Shouldn’t we love him in return? Shouldn’t we be grateful to him and faithfully follow him? Today the time of celebrating the memory of his suffering and death begins. Will this Lenten season be a blessing to us? How often have we already lived through it, and how often has it passed by! Perhaps it now comes to us for the last time. Shall we die without taking the Lamb of God into our hearts? May God in his grace preserve us from that. May he overcome all the resistance of our old nature and bless this time of Lent for our eternal salvation.

 

...Who Takes Away the Sin of the World

 

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

 

This testimony of John’s is the heart and the star of the whole gospel.

 

It is true, John’s mouth was soon closed by a bloody death, but the apostles proclaimed it further: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” They too have died, but this gospel rings through all centuries and hallows them. And when today the Church of the Lord gathers to celebrate the Holy Supper, she looks up to the Crucified One and thousands of voices sing, “O Lamb of God, who bears the sin of the world, have mercy on us and give us your peace!”

 

We are often weighed down with our work, our cares and suffering, but if we had to bear the full weight of our sin and guilt, we would sink under it into eternal night. The beam of the cross that the Lord carried to Golgotha on his torn and bleeding shoulders was heavy, but the invisible burden that rested on that cursed wood was heavier. It was not the sin of one man that was laid on the Lamb of God, but of all people – truly, the sin, guilt, and death penalty of the whole world.

 

The season of Lent admonishes us to look well at this Lamb, and John exhorts us with his challenge, “Behold.” Just as once the children of Israel in the wilderness, seeking help from the bites of fierce snakes, looked up to the bronze serpent, so we too would look to the Crucified One, who bore our burden and atoned for our guilt. We would look to him with ever fuller, ever deeper and more grateful faith. But for this, new and pure eyes are necessary. We must beg the Lord for these if we want to grasp our Redeemer’s suffering in the depths of our hearts. With such eyes, my soul, contemplate your suffering Saviour. See him in the garden of Gethsemane in the shadow of night, lying prostrate on his face, struggling with death and sweating drops of blood. See him in the judgment hall, bearing in silence the lashes of the cruel executioner, enduring spitting and a crown of thorns.

 

Take your place below the cross at Golgotha and hear the seven last words of the dying man. Look at the bloody wounds on his head, his limbs quivering with pain, his eyes filled with tears. Look still deeper: look into the heart of Jesus and see his obedience to his Father and his compassion for you. See his heart break and his head bowed in death. Look until your heart also breaks in pain and love, and your eyes overflow with tears of gratitude. All who look at him and bear him in their souls like this together form the great invisible church of God here on earth, which will be revealed on the day of glory. She will see this Lamb again as her glorified, eternal king. Then she will experience the prophecy of the new covenant: “The Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17).

 

Day 2 - Thursday 3 March

 

The Lord’s Road

 

“And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” ”  (Luke 18:31–33)

 

As long as the temple of Yahweh was standing in Jerusalem and the beautiful services of the Lord were celebrated there, every year when spring came and the Passover festival was drawing near, the joyful cry rang out, “We are going up to Jerusalem!” It resounded in all the towns and villages, cottages and palaces of the Holy Land. When Jesus went to the festival for the first time with his parents as a twelve-year-old boy, how joyfully it rang in his soul: “We are going up to Jerusalem!” This continued throughout his earthy walk to the first years of his mission.

 

How different in content and tone this call sounds in today’s text. Jesus was on his last journey and, accompanied by his disciples, came from the land on the east side of the Jordan into the southern Jordan Valley on the great military road that led to Jericho. This was the most beautiful and most fertile region in the whole land. The road led through avenues of palm trees, rose gardens, and fragrant fields. It was spring once more and the Passover was again near. Everything was green and in bloom; aromatic scents filled the air. Throngs of joyful pilgrims passed them from all directions. The pinnacles of Jericho glittered as they drew near.

 

The road to Jerusalem, situated on the holy hill only a six hour walk away, led through this town. “We are going up to Jerusalem!” rang joyfully in the hearts of the pilgrims, and the Lord’s disciples and friends were filled with hope. They expected that there he would triumph at long last over the horde of the mighty and embittered foe and gloriously establish his kingdom. The Lord also said to his disciples these words, “We are going up to Jerusalem”– but what did he add? “The Son of Man will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” This pilgrimage was the road to his suffering and death, and he walked it with unflinching faithfulness. For his heart glowed with love for his Jerusalem. It was the city of the great king, his anointed ancestor David, and it was the city of the great God, his heavenly Father. His soul was filled with deep sadness: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matt. 23:37)

 

Since he could do nothing else for his royal city, he wanted to die in her and for her. His road to the heavenly Jerusalem for which he longed passed through this earthly, doomed Jerusalem. There is no city on earth today that has the significance of the old Jerusalem–but we yearn for the heavenly one of which we sing.

 

The Disciples’ Road

 

“And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.” (Luke 18:31–34)

 

When the Lord told them what he would have to suffer, the souls of his listeners were stunned as if by a thunderclap. “But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.” They heard but did not understand; they saw but did not perceive (Mark 4:12). They understood nothing of the Lord’s thoughts because they were full of their own ideas. They did not want to hear of suffering and death, for they were dreaming of happiness and glory.

 

They saw in their mind’s eye the dawning glory of the Messiah’s kingdom with its proclamation of healing and salvation. They thought that what the Master was saying about shame, suffering, and death must be some kind of parable, meaning something quite different from the actual words. They felt only one thing: that there was something terribly oppressive in the Lord’s words, so they continued on their way with him, half-stunned. But the Lord knew exactly what was awaiting him. He foresaw the shadows of Gethsemane and felt the horror of the cross on Golgotha. He had the power to turn back at each step and return to his Father’s glory, yet he went forward. What was it that urged him to go this way to the end? It was obedience to his Father’s will, compassionate love toward the lost world. So he strode on to his bloody death, but in his heart he bore the comfort of a victorious resurrection. And wherever he went and wherever he stayed, heavenly blessing lay on his work–such as the blind man who was healed by his faith (Mark 10:52) and the salvation that came to Zacchaeus (Luke 19:9).

 

But the Lord did not say, “I am going up to Jerusalem.” He said, “We are going.” It is this “we” that we have to emphasise. For it does not apply only to those first disciples; it also applies to us insofar as we want to be his followers. For us, too, the way to glory passes through suffering and death. To suffer with Christ for sin in the obedience of faith; to give up all foolish wishes and vain hopes with our eyes fixed on him; with him and in love to him to give our old self up to death; to die with him in quiet confidence in a blessed resurrection when our last hour comes; and then to be with him forever in the heavenly Jerusalem – this is our task. If a stranger should ask us on our pilgrim way, “Where are you going?” then our whole life and being should answer, “We are going up to Jerusalem.”

 

When young people are accepted into the church and then have to face the world, when newlyweds begin their married life together, when men or women are given a new task–they should say to themselves, “We are going up to Jerusalem.” Not only at this season of Lent when we accompany our Lord on his way to suffering and the cross, but throughout our whole walk on this earth, both in the springtime and in the winter of life, may this remain our watchword: “We are going up to Jerusalem.”

 

Day 3 - Friday 4 March

 

The Fire of the Spirit and the Baptism of Suffering

 

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptised with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished“ (Luke 12:49–50)

 

What kind of fire does Christ want to kindle on earth? It is the fire of the Holy Spirit, as John the Baptist already prophesied, “He who is coming after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt. 3:11). Accordingly, the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost in tongues of fire. This fire has a consuming power to begin with. It is a fire that causes dissension and struggle, and the Lord throws it into the sinner’s breast to awake him from sleep and death. As he said, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). For it consumes darkness, sin, and destruction.

 

That is why all who want to continue in the rotten state of this world hate it, and it gives rise to a fierce battle against the disciples of the Lord. But where its consuming power has stood the test, it also becomes a fire of joy and blessing. It enlightens the hearts of believers and leads them to know God. It purifies their souls from sin and guilt and raises them to a life of communion with God. Its holy flames mount to the Father of Light as worshiping love and burn in selfless dedication in serving others. Where this fire is burning, it is heaven on earth. The disciples on the road to Emmaus felt it when they said, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road?” (Luke 24:32).

 

Now, when the Lord called out on his last journey, “Would that it were already kindled!” he gave his disciples a deep insight into his heart and soul. He bears this fire within himself, and he knows that it must be kindled in others. He sees it burning in the breast of his disciples, spreading from heart to heart, from nation to nation, a fiery sign flaming from century to century. Yes, he sees at last the new heaven and the new earth in this element of the eternal light. An intense longing for that time lays hold of him. But now a deep sadness casts itself between his longing and its fulfilment. What a fight must still be ought, what a sacrifice must still be made, before his task is fulfilled! That is why he says, “I have a baptism to be baptised with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!” A terrible flood surges up against the holy fire – the flood of his suffering, of his death. This is his baptism, his baptism of blood. He knows what awaits him, but he goes straight into it in the strength of love. And he is not ashamed to admit his apprehension. “How great is my distress!” he says.

 

We are deeply moved when he speaks. We are filled with wonder when he heals the sick, awakens the dead, and calms the stormy waves. We will fall on our knees before him in worship when we see him one day as judge of the world. But when the heavenly hero is afraid, when his soul trembles, when he pours out his anguish, seeking comfort in his disciples, even hard hearts must become soft. We must call out, “Yes, you are ours, and we are yours!” When this happens, his fire is already kindled.

 

Humble Yourself, My Heart

 

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:20–23)

 

It was a great-hearted request that John and James made through their mother, Salome, to their Master. The thought was a noble one that considered all places of honour beside earthly kings as nothing in comparison with a seat of honour at Jesus’ side. The faith was great: that the glory of the humble Son of Man, in spite of all that he had said about suffering, would soon surpass all human grandeur. The love was ardent, seeking no more blessed goal than to stay beside the Lord forever. A noble courage was needed to dare to ask for such a thing. Yet in spite of all this, an alien fire burned in this request of the Sons of Thunder, for it also contained a forward vanity, a thoughtless pride, and a human messianic hope. So with gentle dignity the Lord rebuked them: “You do not know what you are asking,” and held before their eyes the cup that he would have to drink and the baptism that he would have to undergo. Thus he reminded them in two pictures of the suffering and death facing him. Just as once the waters of the Jordan (beside whose banks they were now standing) had been poured over him at his baptism on beginning his mission, now the dark waves of outward suffering were to flood over him. Just as the precious contents of the wine glass must be savoured to the full, so he must take the wine of tribulation and accept it inwardly. He must drain God’s cup of wrath in humble submission if the Father’s counsel is to be carried out.

 

In this way the Lord wants to impress deeply upon them the fundamental principle of his kingdom: greatness only through humility; sovereignty only through service; the crown only through the cross. Whoever wants to ascend with Jesus must first descend with him. The deep-going question of conscience that Jesus asked – if they could drink his cup and endure his baptism – was answered by both disciples in rash self-confidence, but also in daring truthfulness, with a joyful “Yes!” Later they both honoured this “Yes”– John through a long life filled with suffering in faithful service of the Lord, and James through his early, bloody death. No one can be a Christian without the cross. The closer we would be to the Lord, the deeper we have to go with him, outwardly or inwardly, into his humiliation and into his suffering. That is essential. So let the Lord’s question pierce deeply into your conscience, my soul: Can you, will you drink his cup? Will you endure his baptism? Blessed are all who, through life and death, can humbly answer, “Yes.

 

Day 4 - Saturday 5 Mar

 

The Enemies Gather

 

So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 11:47–48)

 

Ever since the Lord’s first appearance, he encountered malicious opposition from the Pharisees and elders. The higher the sun of his activity rose, the deeper grew their hostility. For he had nothing in common with them, nor they with him. They wanted a brilliant, political messianic kingdom; he demanded repentance and a change of heart. They looked for pleasure and power; he demanded obedience and surrendered faith in his divine mission. Thus their hostility rose to the point of murderous hatred. Already when he had been in Jerusalem previously, they had wanted to stone him. He had escaped their clutches at that time, for his hour had not yet come, and he still wanted to allow them a time of grace.

 

Then suddenly he appeared once more before the gates of the royal city in quiet Bethany, where by raising Lazarus his divine majesty was made to shine more gloriously than ever through the garment of lowliness. This deed was a powerful sermon without words, addressed to his nation; it was the last shaking call to his city: “Awake, Jerusalem!” If she did not grasp this last warning, there was nothing for it but that judgment should break in. The raising of Lazarus roused tremendous excitement in the people, and many believed in the divine victory over death. But that very fact fanned the hatred, which the ruling classes had nursed for so long, into fanatical rage. A meeting of the council was held, and while the Lord was by the Jordan preparing to drink the cup of suffering, here in the den of hatred the poisoned drink was made ready for him.

 

“What should we do?” asked the elders of Israel.

 

But these men did not ask in order to discover the truth but in order to suppress it; they did not ask in order to find God’s will but in order to force through their own wicked will. They admit: “This man performs many signs; everyone will believe in him.” But instead of hastening to him and placing their hearts and lives at his service in adoration, they consider how to cause his downfall. They do this only to maintain their own influence over the people and so defy the hated Romans in their own way.

 

It happens still today that human hearts and political parties, filled with passionate hatred, stifle the voice of truth and conscience to find a favourable opportunity for a crime they have already decided on. But we want to flee from such purpose as from the plague. We would rather suffer and die with the Lord than live and rule without him or against him.

 

The High Priest’s Counsel

 

“But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” (John 11:49–50)

 

There in the meeting of the council a pertinent answer is found to the question, “What are we to do?” Caiaphas, the High Priest, listened for a long time to the excited speeches. Now he rose and said, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” Some of the council may have secretly had the same thought but not dared to express it openly. Caiaphas, however, shies away from nothing. It is all one to him whether they do right or wrong, whether they fulfill the law or bring blood-guilt upon themselves. His decision is certain. Earthly power must be secured even if heaven is lost in the process. If the agitated populace is to be restored to order and the authority of those in power maintained, then Christ has to die.

 

That is the radical expedient. As always in such meetings, strength prevails. Caiaphas’s suggestion forces its way through, and the most terrible crime of the human race, the murder of the Messiah, is decided. The whole meaning and purpose of this murderous decision can be summed up in Caiaphas’s remark: one for all. Yet “one for all” rang also in the shining depth of the heart of God. Caiaphas had to prophesy because he was the high priest. Without knowing or wanting it, he had to disclose God’s eternal counsel of grace.

 

All people have sinned and deserve death, but God will not let himself be robbed of his most beloved creation by Satan’s power and cunning. His heart is filled with pity for the whole race of his lost children. For this reason he prepared the one who is the head of all. He alone is pure and has done nothing to deserve death.

 

Nevertheless he wants to die for all, for he is love. He is able to die without perishing, because he is life. His death is valid for all in the sight of eternal justice, because he is more than all, and because all are one in him. If he dies, all have died in his death; if he lives, all live in him.

 

This is Jesus of Nazareth, God’s Son and the Son of Man. One for all – that is now the comfort of all who have faith. What a dark mystery life and death would be without this word! But if the inscription “one for all” is placed over the manger and the cross, how clear everything becomes.

 

How could we dare to call ourselves God’s children if Christ were not born for us?

 

How could we believe in the forgiveness of our sins if he had not atoned for us?

 

How could we approach death with tranquil hearts if he had not died for us?

 

Yes, “Christ for us” – “One for all.” That is the great fact of salvation through which the world is saved, our human race is newborn, our life is blessed, and death is overcome. Whoever grasps this One in faith has everything that he needs both here and in eternity, peace on earth and blessedness in heaven.

 

Day 5 - Sunday 6 March

 

The Anointing

 

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him in the house of Simon the leper. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a flask of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and poured it on Jesus’ head as he reclined at table, and anointed his feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.“(John 12:1–3)

 

The Lord was on his last journey from Jericho, the city of roses, to the peaceful little village of Bethany, whose name means “house of palms,” situated on the Mount of Olives just an hour’s walk from Jerusalem. There, on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, Simon the leper had a feast prepared in his honour. This act of hospitality and joyous acknowledgment of Jesus required courage, for the council had already issued a warrant for the Lord’s arrest (John 11:57). But at this supper he was safe and surrounded by grateful love.

 

The circle included the host, whom he had healed of leprosy; Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead; the disciples, whom he had chosen; and Mary and Martha, who so gladly served him. Here the Lord was granted a short time of peace and quiet with his own before the outbreak of the last storm. But the joy of the company was dampened by vague forebodings aroused by what the Lord had said about his suffering and the obvious plots of the enemy.

 

Mary in particular was seized with melancholy, and her love rose to its highest peak. She had with her a costly treasure, an alabaster flask filled with oil of nard. At the urge of her love she broke the glass and poured the ethereal contents over the head and feet of her Saviour. In doing this she also broke the outward forms of womanly reserve in order to envelop him completely in the fragrance of her love. He had anointed her soul with the words of his spirit; she anointed his head with the nard of her love. He had dried her tears at her brother’s grave; she dried his feet with her hair.

 

Wherever believing souls gather in unanimity today, thanking him in loving gratitude that they have been cleansed from the leprosy of sin and saved from the jaws of death, they experience Bethany. The Lord is in their midst and blesses their fellowship with his peace-bringing presence. But where are the souls like Mary, who break the heart of their old nature and joyfully give everything they have in the service of his love? The Lord knows them and sees them blossoming in the valley of humility, where they are mostly quiet and hidden, offering the strength and beauty of their lives in gratitude to their Redeemer and in service to others. Indeed the church, the bride of the Lord, is herself such a Mary when she remembers his passion in little family circles or in large church gatherings and accompanies him on his way to the cross with faith and reverence, adoration and prayer.

 

Mary Is Justified

 

“But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”

But Judas said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. “ (John 12:4-6)

 

“But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” (Mark 14:4–9)

 

Here for the first time we are given a glimpse into the dark abyss of Judas’s heart. The Lord’s repeated references to his suffering had gradually made it clear to Judas that this Jesus would not establish the dreamed of messianic kingdom in worldly glory, that following him would not lead to the expected riches and honours. He walked beside his Master, brooding in silence, while within him the love of money grew to thieving avarice, and under the reproachful looks and words of the Lord, his selfishness hardened into hatred of Christ. It is true, he still wore the mask of discipleship, but he was incapable of understanding the love that urged Mary. Yet he felt judged in his heart for his stone-hard egotism by her act of dedication, and the poison of his malice burst forth.

 

This attitude of Judas reveals for all time the mystery of the hatred of the world for the church of Christ. The Lord’s enemies feel rebuked by the behaviour of his true disciples and so try to get rid of them. Judas tried in vain to cover his rage with the cloak of cleverly calculated love to the poor. It is true that some of the disciples were thoughtless and foolish enough to agree with him, but the Lord saw through him.

 

He brought Mary’s act of love into the brightest light by saying, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done what she could; she has done a beautiful thing to me.”

 

Oh that we might also receive His praise: “You have done what you could!” Truly, it is little that we can do, but who has really done even the little he can? Won’t our bitterest self-accusations one day be that we have not done what we could?

 

But where perfect love is at work, it does everything it can. And where it does, the Lord himself adds to it far more than we can imagine or understand. He accepts Mary’s loving deed as the anointing of his body for its burial and resurrection, and declares that this will be proclaimed by every tongue as long as the world exists.

 

When we refresh someone who is thirsty with a drink of cool water, he looks upon it as done to himself (Matt. 25:35, 40). When we try to do God’s will, urged by love, he says these efforts fulfil the law: “Love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom. 13:10).

 

At the Last Judgment all calculating egotists (however hypocritically they still know how to cry, “Lord! Lord!”) will be ordered away with the words, “Depart from me, you cursed” (Matt. 25:41). But those who have lived and died in love will hear the gracious words: “You have done what you could. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:23).

Week 2