Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Holy Wednesday (3/28)

MARK 14:32-42: They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words.  And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”



When I reflect on this passage, I am deeply moved by Jesus' honesty. It's not like I expect the Savior to be a liar, but so often we don't speak the whole truth to one another or to God. We attempt to deceive ourselves (and others), knowing deeply that God knows the truth of us (and still loves us). 

Jesus pours out his fear and grief in this prayer. Does he know exactly what is coming or is he speculating, combining his dread with what he has seen in the years of religious leaders' oppression and Roman occupation? He does not attempt to reframe what he is feeling with quick platitudes about how it will turn out okay or work for the best or even that the Father has not given the Son more than he can handle. He is stricken, scared, and alone. 

His friends do not fully understand his thoughts and feelings, in part because they do not fully comprehend who Jesus is and what he is about. I am grateful, grateful for Jesus' own sake, that the disciples are too tired and stressed to stay awake. It means they're too tired to be like Job's unhelpful friends or to tell Jesus that he's exaggerating or even to turn the narrative about them and their feelings. 

This section narrows its focus on Jesus and his current reality- that a huge sacrifice is coming and that in a fully human body, with human emotions and human logic, it is going to hurt in many and various ways. Is there another way? Any other way? 

How many times have I been in a time of pain, a dark night of the soul, the valley of the shadow of death and wanted out? I have tried bargain with God, tried to reframe and accept, attempted to stuff my feelings. It is the rare occasion that I have said, "Not what I want, but what You want." 

I confess that I have even, on occasion, told God what God wants. I have taken scripture in hand and said, "You have said THIS, now I claim it for my brother, my sister, my son, my husband, my parishioner, my home, my finances,..." That's not exactly submitting to God's will. 

Do I have it in me to imitate Christ in one of his most human moments? Can I be honest about what I feel with the God who already knows it? Can I yield to the mystery of Divine Will, trusting in the plan and future and keeping my eyes open for the forces that oppose God? Do I actually want the holy concession of having my spirit and flesh in alignment with the Spirit and the Word? 


Holy God, help me to be honest with you in my prayers. You wait patiently for me to stop my attempts at control. My heart is restless until it comes to a holy quiet in your peace. Amen.  

1 comment:

Bob Hancock said...

Thank you for such a beautifully honest reflection. I know I do not have it in me to imitate Christ in any of his moments, let alone this particular moment. When it comes to living the Christian life, I see myself as pretty much faking it. That being said, I don't think God uses our gifts or our strengths or our talents. I think he uses our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. And if there is one place I don't like being, it is in a place of weakness, vulnerability, helplessness and shame. I think I have spent my entire life avoiding these. Oddly enough, that is the very place we all start out, and the very place we all end up. Everything inbetween is just temporary.