Friday after Ash Wednesday

Lent 1
Mt 9, 14-15

The 30 or so years that Jesus Christ lived on earth are brief on the timeline of human history. Hardly visible at all. But we believe Jesus, “in the fullness of time,” changed the way we look at life and time itself in those years. He’s God’s revelation to us.

His first disciples saw him, listened to his words, followed him and told us about him. They tell us very little about his birth and early years. The part of his life they tell us most about is the story of his death and resurrection. It’s the longest story in the gospels and we believe it’s the key to understandi the One “who is, who was and is to come.”

How can we understand that story best? Shall we study it academically, maybe read a popular book like Bill O”Reilly’s “Killing Jesus”? Shall we ask historians or scholars what it means?

My community, the Passionists, always begins Lent by celebrating on the day before Ash Wednesday the Feast of the Prayer of Jesus in the Garden. The feast points out the best way to share in the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection– enter the Garden of Gethsemane and pray there with Jesus.

Gethsemane is more than a place, it’s an experience humanity shares. Jesus came to the garden in his humanity and faced there the mystery of death, the fears and helplessness it brings, the questions about God’s care, God’s love and God’s will that humanity faces.

He shares our humanity. We enter the garden–not to fall asleep or simply observe Jesus at prayer–but to face death as he faced it, to face our fears and questions about God’s will and care that he faced then, and to draw divine support as he did.

In his spiritual diary, St. Paul of the Cross said that sharing the humanity of Christ leads to sharing his divinity; meditating on his death and resurrection leads us to new life.

“I also had knowledge of the soul united in a bond of love to the Sacred
Humanity and, at the same time, dissolved and raised to a deep, conscious, and
felt knowledge of the Divinity. For since Jesus is both God and Man, the soul
cannot be united in love to the Sacred Humanity without being at the same time
dissolved and brought to a deep, conscious, felt knowledge of the Divinity.” (Diary)

Thank you, Father, for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ,
the Word who made the universe,
the Savior you sent to redeem us,
who came as one like us
to make us one with you.

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