Wednesday of the fifth week of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
A death threat is uncovered in the dialogue of today’s Gospel. Jesus senses this threat not from the Roman authorities, but from people who “believed” in him. This makes me anxious and fearful. I want to be with Jesus, but the level of difficulty has gone up. The price that I must pay has increased: loss of comfort, loss of friends, and loss of control, even loss of life. Several years ago, I found myself–with Peter–declaring that I will remain with Jesus even if it means death. A few days later, I was horrified to see the subtle and diverse ways I had abandoned him: walking past a person in need on the street, pleading “too tired” when a friend wanted to spend some time with me, watching tv instead of praying my daily prayers…I was mortified. And I noticed that underneath my behavior was fear. I was afraid of losing “my” time to the needs of others. I was afraid of being called away from “my” perceived needs. I was afraid of losing control of things in “my” life. Further reflection led me to see more deeply the insidious nature of sin in my life. And it was driven by fear.
I know how important it is for me to feel that fear. Through the graces of the Spiritual Exercises, and other experiences in my life, I have learned to acknowledge fear and draw my attention back to Jesus. I try to do this in prayer and in my relationships. I do not do this all the time, nor do I do it perfectly. I assume we all still have much to learn.
In the Gospel passage I sense the anger and fear of Jesus. I also see that he does not remain in fear or anger. Rather, like the heroes in the first reading from the Book of Daniel, Jesus places his trust in the Father completely. He certainly feels the fear, but he acts out of love for His Father–and love for us. As we move into Holy Week, let us allow ourselves to feel the emotions that come with the experience of being with Jesus; let us acknowledge our feelings; and let us focus on Jesus and allow him to lead.
Fr. Matt Walsh, S.J.