If you have read today’s Gospel for Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent, you saw Jesus’ life-saving forgiveness and kindness toward the woman caught in adultery. Her horror of facing death by stoning was transformed into grateful relief, as the accusers slunk away and Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.”
Have you noticed that during his journey to the cross, the only people whom Jesus addresses are women? Traditional stations suggest Jesus met his blessed Mother and Veronica. Although we have no recorded words, it’s easy to imagine the gazes of compassion between Jesus and his mother and with Veronica. As he meets the women of Jerusalem, Jesus feels the pain that will be theirs when Jerusalem is destroyed.
Another story about a woman occurred two days before Passover when the chief priests were plotting to arrest Jesus. Jesus was at a meal at a house of Simon the leper. A woman poured an alabaster jar of nard on Jesus’ head. Though onlookers scolded the woman for the waste, Jesus appreciated her kindness. He said, “She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her” (Mk. 14:8-9) Three paragraphs later in Mark’s gospel we read of the institution of the Eucharist. Unlike the institution of the Eucharist in Luke that includes “Do this in remembrance of me” there is no request about remembering Jesus in Mark’s gospel. Instead the reader is asked to remember the deed of the woman. Service and Eucharist are inseparable, as seen again in John’s gospel when there is no record of the institution of the Eucharist; instead we read about humble service in washing feet.
You are probably missing the reception of the Eucharist, along with your parish family. As you pray a spiritual communion, consider ways to be of service today. Those acts are inseparable from the Eucharist, for you and the recipient are an extension of Jesus Chris the Lord. We are all the Body of Christ. Amen.