And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
–– Matthew 26:40
Jesus is speaking to his disciples after they have been overcome by sleep, as he wrestles in the Garden of Gethsemane with the passion he must undergo.
His very own select chief followers would find themselves in the midst of spiritual torpor –– unconnected.
Here is Christ, as He wrestles with the self-sacrifice He will make for mankind, pouring out his love, and yet His main men are so preoccupied with other things –– chiefly sleep –– that they do not notice.
And it was not for lack of information. Previously, Jesus had advised the disciples:
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38)
Then he would have to admonish them:
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
Well, we are often like those undiscerning disciples, aren’t we? Asleep spiritually in all the tensions around us? And don’t we find our remedies in illicit drugs (if we are far wayward), alcohol, feting on the beaches and on the hills –– even in Holy Week?
We would spurn Christ’s redemptive grace, blocking the love God has for us, and denying The Word became flesh and redeemed us by His holy life and holy death.
We empathize with the Roman Catholic Church’s Vicar General Clement Paul when he laments the growing disrespect and irreverence Holy Week suffers by the deeds of us Barbadians.
“I am so shocked,” wailed Father Paul, “to see how far we have drifted from the endearing culture our foreparents bequeathed to us to reverence Holy Thursday, Good Friday –– in fact, the whole of this week –– that I keep asking myself where has the church failed to promote and maintain the holiness of this week and the sanctity of Sundays.”
The truth is the traditional church has been reticent in proclaiming the Gospel like of old. It apparently has little influence on its members who hold high positions in society in so far as setting the appropriate tenor.
For the multiplicity of radio stations we possess as a nation and the balanced and committed national television we boast of, who could tell we were really into Lent and that this was a Holy Week? Where were the music, the tone, the context, to remind us; to wake us from our spiritual slumber?
We are not so smugly confident as Father Paul that it isn’t a case of the horse already bolting the stable as far as reverence for this period of the church calendar is concerned. Sadly, things may have been too far gone.
Holy Week is pretty much ended, leaving us with the high point of Good Friday tomorrow, and the celebration of the Resurrection on Sunday. Those of us who slumbered spiritually this week might determine to experience tomorrow’s holiness by reading and meditating on the Holy Scripture
–– at least for one hour –– accepting Christ’s redemption.
And while we are at it, we might resolve too to give due respect to Holy Week next year.
So often, we become caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily living, we fail to reserve time to be with Jesus. Tomorrow, let us reflect –– at least for that one hour: hear the cries of the children waving palm branches; observe the Son of Man riding regally on an ass; feel the jostling of the crowd; experience the euphoria from the “Hosannas” and other cries of acclamation.
See all this segue to the Garden Of Suffering; watch in pain the Master’s trial before Pilate; look at the fickle people turning against Him; be there as Jesus is sentenced to Calvary, and mocked, spat upon, beaten and forced to carry the heavy cross on the way there; hear the echo of the Roman soldiers’ hammers; feel the agony of torn flesh and strained muscles; share mother Mary’s anguish as Jesus hangs on the cross –– for the sins of the world.
As we reflect, let us take time this weekend to remember those who are not as fortunate as we may be; to pray for those who have come upon hard days;
and to be present for those who we know are suffering. Sharing the pain of our fellowman or neighbour will enliven The Word and help us enter into the holy mystery of the redemptive suffering of Christ.
It was Jesus himself who declared: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
What then the price of merely giving succour?
A blessed Good Friday; and a glorious Easter!