May the power of your love, Lord Christ, fiery and sweet as honey, so absorb our hearts as to withdraw them from all that is under heaven. Grant that we may be ready to die for love of your love, as you died for love of our love. ~St. Francis of Assisi
Maundy Thursday is a day of letting go while still holding on.
If I am to see Jesus and know the power of His love, I must let go of this life and walk with Him with every step to the cross. I have only a tenuous grip on this world, utterly dependent on the Lord taking care of me.
This day, I am reminded of a few basics: No arguing over who is best. No hiding my dirty feet. No holding back on the most precious of gifts. No falling asleep. No selling out. No turning and running away. No covering my face in denial. No looking back. No clinging to the comforts of the world.
But of course I fail again and again. My heart resists leaving behind what I know.
Plucked from the crowd, I must grasp and carry His load (which is, of course, my load) alongside Him. Now is my turn to hold on and not let go, as if life depends on it. Which it does — requiring no nails.
The fire of His love leaves my sin in ashes. The food of His body nurtures my soul. From that soul and ashes rises new life. Love of His love of our love.
The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered…and he went outside and wept bitterly.
“Peter never thought of turning (in the thick of his sin), but the Lord turned (first). And when Peter would rather have looked anywhere else than at the Lord, the Lord looked at Peter. Only when we come to our Father in response to his waiting look can we be freed and forgiven.” Henry Drummond
Peter’s bitter tears flowed–from predicted personal failure, recognizing his guilt, being caught in the act of doing what he said he would never do, knowing he had turned away and denied his best friend, mentor, and Lord.
What nonverbal message did the Lord send when he turned first with that “waiting look” after Peter had turned away? I doubt it was anger as Peter’s denial was just as predicted so not at all unexpected. I doubt it was condemnatory–Peter feels the heaviness of his guilt without any assistance at all.
I suspect it was just as Drummond suggests: it was a look of sad longing and waiting, a look reflecting rejection and hurt, a look of resignation and acknowledgement of the hard and painful work lying ahead, a look wondering how long it will take the children of God to accept grace and to open the gift of forgiveness they were freely given.
We need to know, even when we turn away, denying and rejecting our relationship with him, he turns to us first with a look of compassion and understanding so we will remember and respond.