This Tuesday, March 23rd at 7:00 pm, we will have our Lenten Reconciliation service. Two of my Salvatorian confreres, Peter Schuessler and Alan Wagner, will assist me in hearing individual confessions in a safe manner. I invite you to take advantage of this opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation in preparation for celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ.
Please note the Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Masses will be prerecorded and available on our website, as well as on our YouTube and Facebook pages. Holy Thursday and Good Friday will be live streamed at 7:00 pm and Holy Saturday will be live streamed at 8:00 pm. I hope you can join us. If you plan to attend any of these services in person, remember you need to register to secure a place. Those who show up without registering will be seated if space is available.
Often the picture that comes to mind when I think of Christ is the strong, radiant, risen Christ. But our scriptures keep reminding us that Christ was a human being like us, with the same emotions, who had to find his way to His Father’s will and accept it. He wasn’t always in control. In our reading from Hebrews we hear, In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death… “With loud cries and tears”! It wasn’t easy.
In the Gospel, Jesus realizes that things are getting closer and closer to a deadly confrontation with the religious leaders. He says that “His hour” has come. He then says, I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. We can see Him going back and forth in His mind: be saved from this hour or accept it? The same dynamic plays out in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus ultimately says, not my will but yours be done.
How was Jesus able to arrive at this point of accepting such a brutal, unjust death? Through His consistent pattern of going off by Himself to be in His Father’s presence and seek guidance. As He started His ministry, He went into the desert for 40 days. During that time, He realized that He was not to be a powerful political leader, thus rejecting Satan’s temptations and accepting His Father’s will. He went off to pray by Himself before He chose His apostles. When He was tired, overburdened, confused, etc., He went off by Himself to be in His Father’s presence and calm down, finding His direction forward. The final time was in the Garden of Gethsemane, when, as I noted above, He uttered the ultimate words of obedience, not my will but yours be done.
Like Jesus, we are not in control. “Life happens” and it is sometimes very difficult. How do we cope? How do we find our way forward? Jesus shows us how: give God time and space to be with us and we will surely find our way.
As we enter into the final stage of Lent and prepare for Holy Week and our memorial celebrations of Christ’s suffering and death, I invite us to spend extra time in quiet conversation with the Lord. Like Jesus, we can complain and share our troubles, even with “loud cries and tears,” but we also need to be quiet and listen. Ultimately, we need to be able to say, not my will, but yours be done.
Church sign of the week: If Jesus can rise from the dead, you can get out of bed on Sunday morning.