I love Holy Week. I mean truly and deeply love Holy Week. It is the time that we as a Church remember and re-enter into the events by which Christ bound the Church to Himself. It is the week in which Christ brought to fulfillment His relationship with His people, Himself as the Bridegroom and the Church as His Bride.
As I reflect on Holy Week this year, I am struck by one thing in particular: It is all about relationships. It is about Christ’s relationship with the Church as a whole. It is about Christ’s relationship with each and every one of us individually. And it is also about our relationships with each other.
And as I thought some more, I came to rest on one question: What can Holy Week teach me about my relationship with my boyfriend? and more than that, What can Holy Week teach all of us about romantic relationships in general? See, it is the relationship between Christ and His Church that is the model for all relationships here on earth. So in reflecting on the events of Holy Week, in which Christ proclaimed and demonstrated His love for His Bride, I think we can all be taught how to more faithfully love our beloved. Through Holy Week, we can learn how to love as Christ loves.
So, for each day of Holy Week, I am going to share a few things I think Christ is teaching us about how to love our significant other.
I feel that God has put on my heart three things in particular that Holy Thursday can teach us. Let’s recall that in the Gospel reading for Holy Thursday (John 14: 1-15) before reclining at the table with his disciples to celebrate the Last Supper, Jesus washes their feet.
- Serve each other: “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” Christ, who the Gospel says “had everything in his power”, humbled himself and took the place of a servant before his disciples and his Church. He knew that in order to bind His Bride to Himself, he needed to serve her. And he tells us to do the same. This means that in our relationship with our beloved, is its service that we are called to. Our relationships will not be bound by acts of sheer romance, good feelings or easy times, but by acts that require us to humble ourselves to the place of a servant. I personally do not want a man to get down on one knee in proposal unless he has gotten down on two and washed my feet in service: whether that service be through the times that he has volunteered to change his plans to make new ones that benefit us both, or the times that he offers to lead our prayers when I am tired, or the simple times that he opens my car door for me. Washing someone’s feet takes all kinds of disguises.
- Serve others as a team: Service is not meant to be limited between the two of you. Couples are not called to withdraw into themselves in the name of Christian love and service, but rather to open their relationship and hearts up to the service of their community. Christian couples are called to recognize that Christ is the source of their love and by sharing their relationship with their community, they are ultimately sharing Christ. Grounded in your service to one another, you can better work as a team and go out to serve others. You might have similar service styles, or you might have completely different ones. Give both a try and learn from one another. Here are some ideas you can do together: volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, made PB&J’s and distribute them around the city, visit a nursing home or even just your grandparents, or volunteer at a Church’s youth group. Whatever it is, together you can share your love for each other and Christ by going out and washing the feet of your community.
- Participate in the Eucharist: In the Second Reading tonight (1 Cor 11: 23-26) we heard the Institution Narrative, in which Christ took bread and wine and transformed them into His Body and Blood and instructed His disciples to continue this in remembrance of Him. The relationship advice here is to go to Mass together. Christ instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist so that he could be present with us in the here-and-now while still on earth. So that by the Eucharist Christ can live, move, work and love in us. The Eucharist strengthens the bond between Christ and His Church, and will strengthen the bond between you and your beloved by enabling you to love as He loves. At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “As long as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes.” Every time you participate in the Eucharist, you proclaim the saving mystery of Christ and by rooting your relationship in the Eucharist, your relationship can be a proclamation of that same saving mystery.
I can’t wait to see what else the Lord will reveal in the next few days.