Week of 1 Lent, Year One
[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 40, 54 (morning) // 51 (evening)
In the past few weeks, I’ve met with people who, when they try to take a step toward mercy and help, find their way blocked. In some cases, the church itself, and me personally, have been experienced as barriers to that mercy and help. Sometimes, particular communities and individuals are very powerful conduits of the merciful embrace and gracious help of Jesus. But at other times, we find ourselves blocking the way between the powerful work of Jesus and the profound needs of people.
At such times, perhaps the best we can do is to get out of the way. Our second reading today declares Jesus alone to be “a great high priest.” The passage describes his incredible power to connect with people: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are.” Jesus the high priest may have “passed through the heavens,” but his priesthood does not rest on his moral superiority, his greater strength, or even his nearness to the dwelling place of God. Rather, he is a priest who can sympathize fully with human beings in our weaknesses and trials.
The passage hopes that this understanding of Jesus as fully sympathetic will help us muster the courage to approach him. It is easier to approach Jesus if we aren’t expecting judgment or correction. As the Scripture encourages, “Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
So many of us feel untouched by mercy and unhelped by grace. So many of us are blocked from finding what we need because we experience the world as a judgmental and greedy place. This Lent, my prayer is that the merciful embrace and the gracious help of Jesus will extend from the cross to those who need it most.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.