Contemporary Scripture Reflections for Spiritual Seekers
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, BCC, PCC
Sunday, April 5th, 2020
Excerpts from


In the Passion Narratives, Jesus is portrayed as the Suffering Servant and the Man of Sorrows . Caught by a "trick," purchased for thirty shekels, that is, for the price of a slave, betrayed by a kiss, captured by a mob (possibly Temple Police) and deserted by his followers, Jesus stood alone before the religious authorities. Paradoxically, the one who embodied holiness itself, the one who staked everything on fidelity to God and who himself was a sacrament of God's presence was found guilty of blasphemy...

The effect of having the mockery of Christ linked to the charge of blasphemy and assigning the responsibility to the religious authorities creates an intolerable situation in which those who should have been the bearers of religious consciousness become torturers and blasphemers themselves. It must be noted here that spitting was not merely a form of abuse but an act of judgment, a cultural expression of outrage against one found guilty of blasphemy. However, while the Gospels provide a particular historical context -- that is, a Jewish context-- and a particular way of naming Jesus' "adversaries," his opponents are primarily symbolic representations of conventional wisdom and behavior: Jesus would have received the same treatment in any time and in any place, including our own. It is therefore not helpful to stress the "Jewishness" of his antagonists, and, in fact, to do so only leads to anti-Semitism.

Stewart, Elizabeth-Anne. Jesus the Holy Fool .
WI: Sheed & Ward, 1999.


  1. How can you celebrate the Easter Mysteries while we are in "lock-down"?
  2. In what ways might this time of enforced "slowing down" be spiritually beneficial?
  3. To what extent do you align yourself with God's will and to what extent do you willfully try to control the events in your life?
  4. Why is "surrender" to God the perfect prayer?
  5. How can YOU live the Paschal Mystery in the context of your own life?

Greetings, Readers!

There will be no palms this Palm Sunday, at least, not at my parish; nor will there be street vendors outside the church selling mangoes, intricately woven palm fans and crosses embellished with images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and of the Crucified Christ. Neither will there be processions into the church by palm-waving parishioners singing the loud "Hosannas" that traditionally proclaim the beginning of Holy Week. The streets, in fact, will be quiet save for the rumble of trucks, buses and neighborhood traffic. Instead, the faithful will gather behind closed doors in the safety of their own homes, doing their best to celebrate the Paschal Mystery, perhaps by praying the Rosary, or meditating on the Passion or reading scripture. There will be no parish Seder, no washing of feet, no memorial of the institution of the Eucharist, no veneration of the Cross, no lighting of the Easter fire, no singing of the Exsultet , no baptisms, no ringing of bells, no triumphant strains of Resuscito . Lent, in fact, will culminate not in the glory of the Triduum but in silence, in the starkness of isolation, in social distancing, in fear, in loss, in the sense that nothing will ever be the same again...

And it won't. Much as we would like to believe that life will return to "normal," we will be living in a post-COVID-19 world in which nothing can be taken for granted -- neither our government, nor our places of employment, nor our income, nor our schools, nor our food supply, nor our health system, nor our activities, nor our dreams, and not even our right to a happy death and dignified burial.

Like the crucified Jesus, we have been stripped of everything from livelihood to companionship, from pastoral care to quality of life. But Jesus did not allow the Cross to define him; instead, he put his trust in God, and even in his final pain-wracked, naked moments, he was able to transcend suffering and manifest love, mercy and compassion. Stripped of liturgy, celebration and the comforts of daily life, may we find God in the pervasive silence; may our homes become sanctuaries for the Holy One, places in which we can discover our own rituals and sacred rhythms, temples in which the Risen Christ resides with us, teaching us the way of holiness.
Be well/ Stay well!

PS Try my spiritual self-assessment tool! I hope you find it useful!



Though in the form of God,
Jesus did not claim
equality with God
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
human like one of us.

Flesh and blood,
he humbled himself.
obeying to the death,
death on a cross.

For this very reason
God lifted him high
and gave him the name
above all names.

So at the name of Jesus
every knee will bend
in heaven, on earth,
and in the world below,
and every tongue exclaim
to the glory of God the Fath er,
"Jesus Christ is Lord."
Phil: 2:6-11

The self-emptying of Jesus is evident in all his public ministry but culminates on the Cross where he surrenders all to God. In this moment of public disgrace and seeming failure, in this dreadful suffering and agonizing death, he holds nothing back, not even the last drop of blood.

It is not Jesus' endurance of pain nor the act of dying that "save" humanity, but this self-emptying or kenosis -- the total letting go of any desire to control, of any thoughts of revenge, of any temptation to rely on his powers instead of God's. By renouncing his own will, Jesus allows God's will to be done entirely in him and through him. The paradox is that he is most powerful in this complete and total self-abandonment. The Cross, then, is more than a symbol of torture and execution: it represents Jesus' perfect willingness to renounce all willfulness so that God's will and his will become one and the same will. It is in this sacred moment that the humanity of Christ is Divinized and in which our humanity acquires the potential to transcend self-limitation and sin,

The troubling times in which we find ourselves today test us on multiple fronts. We rage over our losses, we grieve, we blame, we despair, we hoard tomorrow's bread for today, competing with our neighbors for the very resources which everyone needs. Sadly, our willful actions de-humanize us, disconnecting us from Spirit, giving victory to the power of evil. In contrast, those who put their lives on the line for the rest of us -- first responders, doctors, nurses, chaplains, scientists-- demonstrate their willingness to serve humanity, despite the cost. When we can move beyond fear to surrender to God, then we, too, will transcend our humanity, finding that peace of heart that comes only when we rest in the Divine Heart, completely aligned with God's dream for us.
If you have canceled your retreat because of the coronavirus, you may want to think about a virtual alternative. I will be available for group or individual "virtual retreats" (by phone or Zoom) from May 15-August 15. Please contact me by email for more information. Thank you!
Sacred Union through Lectio Divina
Infinity Foundation, Highland Park, IL
Saturday, April 25th,
9:00 a.m.-noon
* Class now virtual, via Zoom! Join from anywhere!

Beyond God
The Well Spirituality Center , LaGrange Park, IL
Summer Institute,
June 26-27, 2020

Out of Your Comfort Zone
Infinity Foundation, Highland Park, IL
Sunday, August 2nd,
1:00-4:00 p.m.
Decoding the Archetypes that Drive Us
Theosophical Society, Wheaton, IL
Thursday, Sept. 24th, 2020
7:00-8:30 p.m.

Balancing Archetypes
Theosophical Society, Wheaton, IL
Saturday, Sept. 26th, 2020
2:00-5:00 p.m.

Mind-Shifting Imagery
ICF (International Coaching Federation) Midwest Regional Conference, Madison WI
October 1-3, 2020
This video explains my approach to this ministry, while my website provides further details as well. I work "in person" as well as remotely by phone, Zoom or Skype; I am also available to facilitate retreats for groups and individuals.
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart |

C. All Photos by Elizabeth-Anne Stewart,