Sunday, 29 March 2015

Holy Week: Stay Awake with Me

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Daily Gospel with a prayerful heart.
By Susanne Timpani (No. 96) 

 And they went to a place which was called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I pray.”  And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled.  

And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch.”

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.  And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt.” 

And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 

And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to answer him. 

And he came the third time, and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come; the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” (Mark 14:32-42)

Many years ago I visited the Holy Land with a group of young friends. On Good Friday we joined hundreds of Christians processing along the path held to be that of Jesus’ final steps.

The Old City of Jerusalem has changed very little in appearance since Jesus’ time. Since the residents of the City are mostly Jews or Muslims, Good Friday is of no religious significance to them. What struck me as we weaved amongst the market stalls and back lanes, was that life for the locals went on. 

They largely ignored our re-enactment of the Way of the Cross. I wondered then if this had been Jesus’ experience. Criminals carried crosses through the streets on a regular basis. How many people actually cared? What went through Jesus’ mind as vendors went about their business? Surely He would have questioned His purpose?

The night before this procession – Holy Thursday – we joined a group in an ‘Upper Room’ and re-enacted the Last Supper. When this was over, we got up and followed ‘Jesus’ and his ‘disciples’ outside and travelled to the Garden of Gethsemane.

As we entered the Garden we passed a group of ‘soldiers’ laughing while they stood and warmed their hands around a bonfire.

The Gospel re-enactment continued. ‘Jesus’ pleaded with us to stay awake and wait with Him. It was a heartbreaking experience. The irreverent laughter from around the bonfire penetrated the silence in the Garden. This was the most poignant moment for me. 

How utterly alone Jesus must have felt. In His moment of dire need, no one stayed awake with Him.

I know I was blessed to have made that pilgrimage. Each year I draw from those memories to help me enter into the spirit of Holy Week. But we don’t have to physically visit ‘holy sites’ to experience the meaning of this special time.

We have the Word of God that draws us into that experience. Holy Week is a time to stay awake with Jesus as He prays. Being faithful to ten minutes of quiet prayer a day is one way to help us prepare for Easter.

The 10 Minute Daily Retreat will be offered each day this week to help us on this journey.

Reflecting on the Stations of the Cross is another way to follow in Jesus footsteps this week.

5 minutes: READ the text slowly.
REFLECT on a phrase or word that struck you.
SPEAK to God about your thoughts.
5 minutes: LISTEN to God speak to you.
RESPOND with a prayer that feels right for you.

Next Reflection: Louise Crossley  Monday 30th March, 2015.

Stations of the Cross:
First Station: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane Matthew 26:36-41
Second Station: Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, is Arrested Mark 14: 43-46
Third Station: Jesus is Condemned by the Sanhedrin  Luke 22:66-71
Fourth Station: Jesus is Denied by Peter  Matthew 26:69-75
Fifth Station: Jesus is Judged by Pilate Mark 15:1-5,15
Sixth Station: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns John 19:1-3
Seventh Station: Jesus Bears the Cross John 19:6,15-17
Eighth Station: Jesus is Helped by Simon the Cyrenian to Carry the Cross Mark 15:21
Ninth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem  Luke 23:27-31
Tenth Station: Jesus is Crucified  Luke 23:33-34
Eleventh Station: Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief Luke 23:39-43
Twelfth Station: Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Disciple John 19:25-27
Thirteenth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross Luke 23:44-46
Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Placed in the Tomb Matthew 27:57-60