Readings: Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12; Hebrews 4: 14-16, 5:7-9; John18:1 - 19:42
I read somewhere a very challenging statement saying: “What will kill Christianity, what will kill the Catholic Church is not the atheism, not the enemies of Christ but the lukewarm attitude of believers, the indifference of Catholics.” And it is true. Nothing is able to kill my faith but my own lukewarm indifference.
Jesus is alone ….
“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."
He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me."
He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer … When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, "So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again … Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open.
He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again.
Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.” (Matthew 26; 36-45)
And in today’s Gospel:
“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala and the youngest of his disciples John.” (John 19; 25)
I was thinking about this yesterday evening, while seating in the adoration room after the Holy Thursday Mass. From among the whole parish only two couples and four women find the time to spend few minutes in adoration yesterday evening …
I am very sorry, to say this but, does it mean that all others were sleeping? Jesus is constantly asking the same question: “Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?”
Today during the day nobody came even for the shortest adoration …
And I am consoling myself with the statements: “I am not bed. I am actually a good person.” Does it mean that I don’t need the passion, the death and the resurrection of Christ? Does it mean that I don’t need these few minutes of adoration on the Holy Thursday?
Sorrow and pain, suffering and anguish can lead us into one of four lands:
- The barren land in which we try to escape from it and when we cannot we are overwhelmed,
- The broken land in which we are not able to deal with it and we sink under it,
- The bitter land in which we resent it, where we are offended by it,
- The better land in which we bear it and become a blessing to others.
This is what Jesus did with all our sorrows and sufferings on the Cross.
I heard once the words which moved me. It was during a painful ceremony of funeral:
"These difficult days for you and your family may become a time of great graces if you unite your suffering to those of Christ crucified. All too often we forget that it was not when Our Lord was preaching and teaching, and multiplying the bread that He saved the world. It was, rather, when He was seemingly helpless and abandoned on the Cross. There, in the midst of unspeakable anguish and pain, suffering and sorrows Christ wrought redemption for us. By joining your anxiety and pain to His, you will help countless others open their hearts to His grace and love."
Pope John Paul II in his remarkable book “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” wrote:
"There is no Christian holiness; there is no Christianity at all without devotion to the Passion, without the Cross of Jesus Christ."?
Saint Paul in the letter to the Galatians says:
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal 6,14)
We will be more then pleased or even delighted with a religion giving us only the good feelings and positive emotions, with a religion similar to a talisman or religion amulet. But unhappily or rather happily the symbol of Christ’ religion is not a four leaf clover or a horseshoe.
The symbol of our religion is THE CROSS of Jesus Christ.
And maybe one thing more: It is not about our feelings, or emotions.
It is about our salvation, and for our salvation our feelings are rather irrelevant.
If Jesus Christ stresses constantly His feelings and His moods He will never accept the cross, the passion and the death.