“Mimi! Mimi!” giggled three-year-old Gemma as she ran into the kitchen. With arms outstretched, she proudly presented a small vase packed with treasure: plucked red tulips, snapped-off purple violets, and ripped-out-of-the-ground golden dandelions. Then she tripped—and disaster. The vase flew across the room and dropped to the ground. Her precious offering shattered into a thousand pieces and its cherished contents lie dangled and drooped. Gemma’s broken heart spilled over with tears and disappointment.
After a glorious entry into Jerusalem, all expectations of triumph are crushed as an apparent disaster unfolds: a broken jar, wasted oil, a kissed betrayal, a ripped ear, stripped garments, a torn veil, a battered body, a head crowned, and broken hearts. What good could possibly result from such devastation?
On Palm Sunday, we encounter the beauty of human love as a woman purposefully breaks an alabaster jar to pour expensive, perfumed oil over Jesus’ head in preparation for burial. We also experience the depth of human sinfulness as Judas breaks his friendship with Jesus through a kiss of betrayal.
The clash between good and evil, God’s kingdom and the world, comes to a head. All seems lost as Jesus’ battered and broken body dangles from the cross. We are, at first, repulsed by ripped and torn flesh until we recognized the ugliness of our sinful, selfish ways. We are sickened by the nails pounded and thorns pressed as we comprehend the pain and suffering we have inflicted upon others.
All seems wasted, yet LOVE overcomes power, fear, and hatred. Jesus’ sacrifice forgives sin, fulfills the covenant, and restores humanity to original goodness. His stripped body clothes our shame. His scourging takes on our sufferings. His broken body—His broken vase—heals our hearts through unfathomable love.
Jesus outstretched arms, nailed to a cross, highlights the depth of God’s love and the truth of our value. We are loved beyond measure—beyond any pain, struggle, suffering, or sin. We are worth more than imagined—not on our own accord—but because Jesus’ death makes us worthy as God’s beloved children.
As parents/grandparents, we name grace—God’s redeeming presence—each time we are willing to lay down our lives for our children/grandchildren, whether a night’s sleep until our child’s fever breaks or precious time spent on breaking stems of wild flowers for a kitchen bouquet. We name grace during Holy Week as we pray with our children at the foot of the crucifix, reflecting on the depth of God’s love for us. We name grace as we bring our children to Good Friday services to kiss the cross, which has broken sins’ hold on humanity.
What good resulted from Gemma’s seemingly disastrous gift? As tears streamed down Gemma’s face, I understood the value of this treasured offering of picked, wilted, flowers—it was the gift of her heart. As I recognized the depth of her pain—the depth of her love, I held her closely instead of extending a quick hug or a pat on her back. At Mass this week, as the priest lifts the host—His body broken for us—let us remember Jesus’ great love poured out to heal each of our broken hearts. Now, that’s good news!
How will you teach your child about God’s immeasurable love?
How has God transformed your broken heart?
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.