Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:42
St. Basil starts today’s reflection this way: “No one may prefer his own will to the will of God, but in everything we must seek and do the will of God.” St. Augustine of Hippo complements St. Basil, thus: “Nothing therefore happens unless the Omnipotent wills it to happen; He either permits it to happen, or He brings it about Himself.” We may wonder: why at times God responds to our prayers immediately and at other times does not respond at all? For this reason, Jesus speaking to His disciples says, “…always pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1) So when it seems that God is silent, we ought not to be discouraged, rather we ought to persist in prayer. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed for the same thing three times over what appeared to be a three-hour time span. (Matt. 26:44) Three times He prayed: “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from me unless I drink it, your will be done.” (Matt. 26:42, MEV) His persistence was borne out of a troubled heart. He was never doubtful or unsure of God’s willingness to answer Him. Jesus was just gripped by the thought of being alienated from God. Never before was this a reality. The thought of His bearing the sins of the world as He hung on the Cross weighed heavily on His heart. His persistence in prayer was simply a confirmation that the Cross was the only option. God’s redemptive love had to be demonstrated through His atoning death, burial and resurrection. God’s silence confirmed the necessity of Jesus’ impending death. God cannot be wrong, because humanity was about to have a Savior. All was well! God’s silence satisfied Jesus’ prayer request. The cross was God’s will. Pope Francis tells us, “Jesus on the cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love He conquers it; He defeats it with His resurrection. This is the good that Jesus does for us on the throne of the cross. Christ’s cross, embraced with love, never leads to sadness, but to joy, to the joy of having been saved and of doing a little of what He did on the day of His death.”
In today’s world, most people will do whatever they can to avoid suffering. They’ll break any promise, betray any trust, and deny any truth if they think it will somehow lessen their pain. Ironically, in doing so, they only suffer more. In troubled times, prayer becomes more important than ever! Let prayer be your spiritual balm! Prayers in difficult times calls down strength from heaven to sustain us. We may wish that He would calm our storms by just saying “quiet, be still,” as He once did to calm the wind and the waves. (Mark 4:39) Nonetheless, God in His providence often allows us to go through periods of great anxiety and suffering, just as He did in His Passion out of love for us, for our greater good and His glory.
MASS: VIOLETJer 11:18-20; Ps. 7:3.9bc-10.11-12(R.2a); Accl. Lk 8:15; Jn 7:40-53 ANNIVERSARY OF POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II
1. Take this prayer: Teach me, my Lord, to be sweet and gentle in all the events of my life, in disappointments, in the thoughtlessness of others, in the insincerity of those I trusted, in the unfaithfulness of those on whom I relied. Let me forget myself so that I may enjoy the happiness of others. Let me always hide my little pains and heartaches so that I may be the only one to suffer from them. Teach me to profit by the suffering that comes across my path. Let me so use it that it may mellow me, not harden or embitter me; that it may make me patient, not irritable; that it may make me broad in my forgiveness, not narrow or proud or overbearing. May no one be less good for having come within my influence; no one less pure, less true, less kind, less noble, for having been a fellow traveler with me on our journey towards eternal life. As I meet with one cross after another, let me whisper a word of love to you. May my life be lived in the supernatural, full of power for good, and strong in its purpose of sanctity. Amen.”
Exercise: Take the prayer of St. Ignatius De Loyola in Section A
Meditation: 2 Timothy 2:3