The words of Holy Tuesday resound in our souls powerfully. The intense “woes” spoken out of the mouth of the Prince of Peace may feel somewhat shocking to us. But like the cleansing of the temple which occurred the day before, these words work like fire to awaken us urgently to recognize those places where authority and dead forms have shrouded our true nature.
We are called with the Pharisees and Scribes to examine how raising ourselves or someone else up as authority can obscure to us the true lord who guides us in freedom from within to true self and true community.
The search for the Grail may begin as the search for an actual cup that was used once at the Lord’s Supper, and again underneath his Cross. But it must be transformed into the search for a vessel for the Spirit in the human soul. This search requires us to allow authority and hollow form to give way to authenticity and spiritual substance which brings creating power into the world.
This struggle is most active and most palpable in the human being in our speaking. Our words can become hollow and authoritative when we are afraid to reveal who we truly are and what our true intentions may be. The temptations in speaking are many. Here, we are each quite powerful—though we may not realize just how powerful we are. Our words shape the world around us and our experience of it.
The sixth Woe that Christ speaks out refers directly to the cup and the plate—an image of that which nourishes us through our mouths. For the Hebrew, this image called up the practices of purification of that which goes into the body. These practices are turned inside out by Christ. To them he says: “You cleanse the cup and the plate on the outside, but inside they are full of greed and poison; first cleanse the inside of the cup; only then does it make any sense for it to be clean outside.”
He had spoken earlier to them in this way in the Temple when he said:
You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”
10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. 11 It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” (Matthew 15)
We are all endowed with the gift of the word—which is a gift of leadership, the power to change the world.
How would it be if every time a single word left our lips we prayed: let the Word go forth from my lips purified by you, o Lord, in me?
How do we make an offering–raise up the Grail–in the act of our speaking?