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Monday, Holy Week

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends" - John 15:13

"The Jewish Bride (detail)", 1665-67, Rembrandt van Rijn

Reverence is the deepest form of respect, a serious desire to recognize another as important in his or her own right. It accepts that we are not central to the universe. It is this attitude of tender humility that Rembrandt expresses with such power in The Jewish Bride. His couple are not in their first youth, or beautiful in any classic sense, but both are infinitely moving in their expression. We know at once that they love each other. Each gives love and receives it. Love is supremely beautiful, but like the golden chain the man has placed around the neck of his beloved, it also binds. Each is surrendering freedom, but willingly so, thus facing truth that we cannot have everything; if we love, we make a delimiting choice. They do not even need to look into each other's eyes. Rather they ponder with wonder the implication of their blessedness and meaning of total commitment.


How deeply you have loved us, Jesus;

how willingly you stepped into our experience,

how completely you empathized with all that we endure.

Teach us to love as you have loved us.

How sacrificially you have loved us, Jesus;

how completely you gave yourself for us,

how courageously you suffered for our sakes.

Teach us to love as you have loved us.

How restoratively you have loved us, Jesus;

how generously you share your life,

how extravagantly you make yourself available to us.

Teach us to love as you have loved us.

We praise you for your love

which is given so freely and so unconditionally.

And we thank you for believing

that we could learn to offer such love

to each other.


— written by John van de Laar

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