First Reading: Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8-9
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. Yet it was I who taught E’phraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one, who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. How can I give you up, O E’phraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel! How can I make you like Admah! How can I treat you like Zeboi’im! My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy E’phraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come to destroy.
Responsorial Psalm: Isaiah 12:2-6
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name; make known his deeds among the nations, proclaim that his name is exalted. “Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
Second Reading: Ephiesians 3:8-12, 14-19
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.
Gospel: John 19:31-37
Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness — his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth — that you also may believe. For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled, “Not a bone of him shall be broken.” And again another scripture says, “They shall look on him whom they have pierced.”
The request is a strange one seeing as it was the Jews who fought madly for the bloody crucifixion scene in the first place. But they quietly whisper out of the corner of their mouths to Pilate to finish it off and pack it all away before the start of their Sabbath. They can’t have all that bloody brokenness and sin sullying their worship. And yet, Jesus had already uttered that it was done. He had finished His work and the brokenness and death they saw on the outside was actually already saved, redeemed, healed, and on its way to resurrection glory.
His pierced side reflects the moment in which they find themselves, as the blood of the Passion mixes with water of salvation. It is a scene His persecutors wish away. To go back to the way we were before and pretend that it was not our sin that beat across His back and brow, our brokenness that He was broken for.
But denying the darkness of our own sin, hiding away the fatal consequences of our faults, is the most dangerous kind of lie. Because in bearing testimony to our brokenness, we give glory to the salvation He won for us. We can only “know the love of Christ which surpasses all understanding” if we are honest about how little we deserve that kind of love.
Our sin destroys our relationship with God, but it can also be the path that leads us back to Him if we are willing to face it, confess it, and allow Him to wash us clean. Because our Heavenly Father’s response to our sin is to literally flood us with His mercy and forgiveness. His compassion grows warm and tender and it flows from His very heart to us, binding us to Him with bands of love, cords of compassion.
He bends down to us in our pitiful state, draws near, and feeds us. Places His very love on our lips and offers us an intimacy we could never merit. We are drawn into His heart, and washed clean by His mercy.
This is the undeserved reward that is ours when we acknowledge brokenness rather than hiding it away for the sake of appearing to have our spiritual lives all together. Whatever your mess or your mess ups might be today, stop trying to pack away the cross and clean up as quickly as possible.
Forget about appearances and propriety and what it looks like to everyone else, and let this be your worship—the broken, bloody repentance of one clinging fiercely to grace. Let Him really see you, with all your mess. And know and believe the truth, that even when you are seen for all that you are, you are loved fully, and His compassion only grows more warm and tender for you, the one that He loves.[Tweet “Let this be your worship—the broken, bloody repentance of one clinging fiercely to grace.”]
Take some time to meditate today on the image of the Sacred Heart. Remind yourself that the flame that burns there is the warmth of his tender love and compassion for you, a sinner who is loved and cherished by your God.
Colleen Mitchell is wife to Greg and mother to five amazing sons here on earth. They serve in Costa Rica where they run the St. Francis Emmaus Center, a ministry that welcomes indigenous mothers into their home to provide them access to medical care, support and education in the weeks before and after the birth of a child. Find out more about her here.