For those following the readings of daily Mass in Lent, the Biblical best has been saved for Holy Week. The book of the prophet Isaiah contains four separate descriptions of a “Suffering Servant”—a shadowy figure called by God to suffer and give his life for the people. Today we read the first description of the Christ-like Suffering Servant. We note how the plot against Christ built steadily towards its climax.
Meditation—Background of Monday of Holy Week
The events for the next three or four days are not clearly divided in the Gospels, but the pattern is shown in Our Lord's actions on Monday. His activity during this period was intense. We are not told all of the activities. He was protected in disputations with the authorities by the good will of the people. Our Lord would come into Jerusalem in the morning. He would spend the day there, teaching and discussing in the Temple, at night He would leave the city, cross the Kidron, and withdraw to the Mount of Olives (where lay Bethany and Gethsemani). Coming into Jerusalem early on Monday, Our Lord cursed the fig tree which had leaves but not fruit—a symbol of Judaism, whose religion had much foliage and practices, but no interior spirit and no fruit.
Meditation—Mary and Judas
Today the liturgy presents two noteworthy characters who play dissimilar roles in the Lord's passion. One fills us with solace and comfort; the other with uneasiness and wholesome fear. Their juxtaposition produces a powerful effect by way of contrast. The two characters are Mary of Bethany and Judas.
Jesus is in the house of Lazarus, at dinner. Mary approaches, anoints the feet of her Savior for His burial and dries them with her hair. Judas resents her action and resolves upon his evil course. These two persons typify man's relation to Christ. He gives His Body to two types of individuals: to Magdalenes to be anointed, to Judases to be kissed; to good persons who repay Him with love and service, to foes who crucify Him. How movingly this is expressed in the Lesson: "I gave My body to those who beat Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked them. I did not turn away My face from those who cursed and spit upon Me."
The same must hold true of His mystical Body. Down through the ages Christ is enduring an endless round of suffering, giving His body to other Marys for anointing and to other Judases to be kissed, beaten, and mistreated. Augustine explains how we can anoint Christ's body:
Anoint Jesus' feet by a life pleasing to God. Follow in His footsteps; if you have an abundance, give it to the poor. In this way you can wipe the feet of the Lord.
The poor are, as it were, the feet of the mystical Christ. By aiding them we can comfort our Lord in His mystical life, where He receives Judas' kisses on all sides-the sins of Christians.
The Gospel account may be understood in a very personal way. In everyone's heart, in my own too, there dwell two souls: a Judas-soul and a Mary-soul. The former is the cause of Jesus' suffering, it is always ready to apostatize, always ready to give the traitor's kiss. Are you full master over this Judas-soul within you? Your Magdalen-soul is a source of comfort to Christ in His sufferings. May the holy season of Lent, which with God's help we are about to bring to a successful conclusion, bring victory over the Judas-soul and strengthen the Magdalen-soul within our breasts.
—Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Monday of Holy Week
Station with Santa Prassede all'Esquilino (St. Praxedes):
The Station today is at the church of St. Praxedes which was built over St. Praxedes' home. It was one of the twenty-five original parishes in Rome. It is easily one of the most beautiful churches in the Eternal City and is bedecked with incredibly beautiful mosaics. The present church is the one built by Pope Adrian I c. 780, completed and altered by Pope St. Paschal I c. 822. It was enlarged at that time mainly to serve as a repository for relics from the catacombs.
For more on Santa Prassede all'Esquilino, see:
For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.