Today is the anniversary of a sad episode in the life of Christ:
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, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” 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, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!” 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. Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.” (Matthew 26:36-46)
While the worst was certainly yet to come, Jesus was deserted by His closest friends when He needed them the most. Sad, isn’t it? All He asked them to do was to keep Him company in His agony. We all know that feeling. The companionship of a close friend when we are suffering can make the difference between hope and despair. Those of us who have lost loved ones know this feeling well. The fact that our friends are with us is more important than what they say.
You have an advantage over the sleeping apostles in that you know what would happen to Jesus the next day. They didn’t fully understand what would be taking place over the next few days. Maybe if they did they would have stayed awake. Don’t you wish you could go back in time and comfort the Lord in His hour of need?
Because Jesus is God, He is aware of all past and future events. As a result, while He was in Gethsemane, He knew everything that you would ever do. Unfortunately, this means that all of our sins contributed to His agony. On the other hand, He was also able to see all of our good acts as well. Although it can be difficult to grasp this concept, any act of kindness you direct to Jesus today was foreseen by Him as He suffered in the garden two thousand years ago. How’s that for powerful?
Today, you have the opportunity to comfort Jesus. You can spend time with Him in prayer, sit with Him in Eucharistic adoration, accept your suffering patiently, be kind to others or read Scripture. We aren’t being asked to change the course of history, but simply to spend time with Him. Peter, James and John fell asleep and missed their chance…
Will you fall asleep too?
(Gary Zimak is a Catholic speaker and author who travels throughout the United States and Canada giving inspirational talks and leading parish missions and retreats. Click HERE to invite Gary to speak at your parish or conference or to inquire about his availability.)