Peace & Unrest

Peace & Unrest

Today I wanted to share with you a reflection that I wrote during my first Holy Week as a priest:

Holy Week Monday

The gospel today is a delight to the imagination. Imagine with me for a moment the scene that John gives to us today. We hear that it is 6 days before the Feast of Passover. This means that Jews and even non-Jews all over the region are making their way to Jerusalem, flooding the city. There is lots of commotion, people buying and selling goods in the marketplaces. There is the excitement in this great time of community, family and friends are gathering together, catching up, and sharing their lives.

John tells us that Jesus is in the town of Bethany, a smaller town roughly 2 miles east of Jerusalem, in the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Jesus is away from all the commotion that is happening in Jerusalem, but I am sure that Bethany is experiencing its own growth as the feast draws near. In looking at Jesus with His disciples, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, we see them gathering in the intimacy of dinner. I imagine that there is great joy and peace in the home. The last time Jesus had visited there was great sorrow and grief at the death of Lazarus and that it took so long for Jesus to arrive. Back then Lazarus had been in the tomb for 4 days. Yet now they are here in their home, all of them Martha, Mary, and Lazarus all enjoying one another’s company. For Martha’s part John tells us, “and Martha served.” In these words now again in the presence of Jesus I imagine Martha at great peace, serving Jesus now is a great prayer. If you recall the story of Martha and Mary from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus had to speak into Mary’s heart, Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing, Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” At this story from Luke we had heard that Martha was ‘burdened with much serving.’ Now John simply says of her, ‘and Martha served.’ I imagine her to be at great interior peace, she has allowed Jesus to speak into the depth of her heart and she received His word and let it heal her inner unrest.

Lazarus, who as we have seen was laid in the tomb, is now reclining at table with Jesus, enjoying his friendship with Jesus. He knows that he is loved. He knows that Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus, yet now they are together again sharing in this friendship.

Mary she was the one who had contemplated Jesus sitting at the feet of this great teacher. Now she, the one who had contemplated has insight to anoint Jesus’s feet for burial. At this moment this peaceful home is filled with the fragrance of this costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard. This home that has experienced death and then resuscitation is now filled with the fragrance that anticipates death again, but perhaps it is filled with the sweetness of the anticipation of the resurrection.

At this fragrance the bitterness and disquietude of Judas’s heart comes out, he is upset not at peace. John tells us that Judas would rather have had the perfumed sold. He says for the poor, but his love for money, self, and things has blocked him from seeing the goodness of this moment. Judas is not at peace because he has not fully given himself to Jesus. He has not entrusted his full heart to Jesus. Judas has kept this part of his life secret, he would steal from the contributions for the group and indulge his own interests. [Even in John 6, at the end of the bread of life discourse Judas no longer believed Jesus, but Judas remained with Jesus never the less.]

Lastly we see the disquietude of the chief priests, rather than seeing the beauty of God’s action in the raising of Lazarus from the dead. They plot to kill Lazarus instead. Only God could raise someone from the dead, rather than rejoicing and seeing God’s actions in their midst, they plot to kill Lazarus ‘because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of [Lazarus].’ The only thing that Lazarus was guilty of was being the one brought back to life. Here we see how the unrest and disquietude of their hearts amplifies, they don’t think logically.

As we consider those at peace and those at unrest we see that it is Jesus that brings this peace, not only Jesus, but remaining in this friendship with Him and not holding these parts of our lives back from Him. To what extent do we befriend Jesus? How much of our lives do we share with Jesus? Do we let Jesus speak into our areas of unrest? If Jesus could only act upon what we have told Him would He know enough to speak healing words to us?

Today we follow the example of Martha, Mary and Lazarus who have loved Jesus and invited Him completely into their home, into their struggles. We allow Jesus to walk with us too through the trials and difficulties of life, that we may experience the peace and joy of having Jesus to be a part of our lives.


May God richly bless you!

-Fr. Jeremy


And for me during Holy Week last year I was learning what to do during COVID Lockdown, here is a video:



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