As I mentioned in my last post, I am using Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in my prayer these days. You can find the libretto with English translation here. Last night, I was reflecting on the woman who anointed Jesus’s feet at Bethany, and how his disciples were bickering about the waste of the ointment. One of the arias in this piece translates as follows:
Repentance and remorse
gnash my sinful heart in two,
that my teardrops
might bring forth sweet spices
for you, faithful Jesus.
It’s a bit more dramatically stated than I might put it, but still, it is really something to sit with the weight of my own sinfulness, knowing that I do make my own contribution to the brokenness of our world, and yet also knowing that Jesus’ love can break through it all, one layer at a time, one heart at a time. I have noticed that it is not usually when things are going smoothly that I feel closest to God, but when I at the end of my rope, utterly dependent on God to help me hang on just another day.
Can I just sit with Jesus today in gratitude for the great gift of his life and presence, and refrain from nitpicking myself over my foibles, my tendencies to overeat, procrastinate, accumulate gadgets, avoid exercise, etc? It’s that whole concept of “rending your hearts, not your garments” that we heard on Ash Wednesday. And the whole point is to grow closer in my relationship with God/Jesus. Just doing a “hatchet job” on myself accomplishes little if I lose sight of the broader context of God’s profound and unconditional love for me.
I hope you are all having a blessed Lenten season!