Thursday, April 1, 2004
Jesus Loved to the End
Now before the Festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. —John 13:1
It was a Maundy Thursday when my former spouse told me she wanted a divorce. Her words during our marriage counseling session that morning – “I now see the pain in your life, but I don’t want to be a part of it” – stung my ego but calmed my soul. The impending demise of my marriage and the destruction of my three sons’ sense of family forced me to be honest with myself. I had wanted a divorce for several years but lacked the courage to broach the topic. I was afraid of losing my children.
At that Maundy Thursday service I meditated on the suffering about to be visited upon all of us. Yet I was not prepared for the chaos unleashed in our lives when the divorce papers were filed the next fall. My worst fears were realized. We ended up in litigation for two years over the custody of my three teenage sons.
Jesus’ example of loving to the end those who had joined him in his worldly journey – even the one who betrayed him – became my inspiration. I learned to pray for my former spouse and wash away some of the hurt in my sons and in me. Over the next six years, with the help of my present wife, Suzy, we began to rebuild a new sense of family around our meals at home. Eventually we began to have Thanksgiving dinner with my sons and former spouse at our home. Prior to leaving New York to move to Louisville during the first week of Advent 2002, my former spouse, surprisingly, returned our hospitality by inviting me and Suzy to join her and our sons for Thanksgiving dinner.
God, help us to realize that even those who we may not like or admire are invited to Your Table and have received Your love and blessing. Help us to face up to the death of unloving relationships so that from our suffering will come new life and more Christ-like love. Amen.
Larry I. Palmer