Sometimes I wonder why I do the things I do.
My daily dose of apple cider vinegar is a great example. A golf league buddy of mine recommended the regimen as an excellent way to lose weight and promote digestion. Six months into the practice, I can’t really say it’s been a miracle tonic: I’ve dropped a few pounds, but not nearly as many as I’d hoped / expected, especially during this Lenten season of denial.
Still, I persist in drinking the stuff. Or more precisely, in “choking it down.” Even diluted in a glass of water, a mere tablespoon of ACV is quite difficult to swallow.
But if you’re going to drink apple cider vinegar, there’s perhaps no more appropriate time than Spy Wednesday, the middle of Holy Week. On this day, liturgically, we recall the betrayal of Jesus by one of his closest followers. Just before that Gospel story is read, we hear the haunting words of Psalm 69:
Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak,
I looked for sympathy, but there was none;
for consolers, not one could I find.
Rather they put gall in my food,
and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Bitter, pungent, acrid vinegar. The rumble in my digestive tract today reminds me of the so-very-many “Spy Wednesday” habits in my life: I know exactly how ACV tastes, and I drink it anyway. I do so, because I expect a specific benefit – despite mounting evidence to the contrary. And I am left wondering: Am I so unlike Judas in that regard?
How often do I make excuses for refusing to change? How often do I rationalize my bad choices, seeking happiness in things that can never satisfy? How often do I ignore the simple morsels of grace that are offered to me…and gravitate toward the shiny pieces of silver instead?
It is a blessing to have this vinegar to drink, right smack dab in the middle of Holy Week, I realize. It is a blessing, because the very futility of this bitter tonic serves as a reminder to turn my eyes toward Jesus. To rely less on myself…and to fall into the Loving Arms outstretched for me (for us) on the cross.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.