March 26, 2016 | Reflections from Sr Antonia
I have listened to the Gospel on a Palm Sunday all my life, and did so of course on this most recent Palm Sunday. To be quite truthful I was spellbound! My eyes actually filled with tears at one point… and this surprised me. Remembering St. Benedict’s counsel that during Lent we devote ourselves to prayer with tears however, I welcomed them.
"… this we can do in a fitting manner by refusing to indulge in evil habits and by devoting ourselves to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart and self–denial." RB 49:4b. It was the first time I had received the gift of tears whilst praying (except when I was upset for myself of course, which is not what St. Benedict is referring to!)
What had actually touched me so profoundly was that Jesus' love for his friends ("I call you friends") was so deep that he literally LONGED to share the paschal meal with them.
"I have longed and longed to share this paschal meal with you
before my passion."
Luke 22:15 Knox trans
His heart had yearned for it, looked forward to it, hoped for it.
And, I believe, he needed his friends. In the garden of Gethsemane he was afraid, and asked them to stay close by as he wrestled with his "yes" to His Father.
"Agony In the Garden" By Giovanni Bellini (circa 1430–1516)
Further on in Luke Jesus says: "Peter, Peter… but I have prayed for you Peter that your faith will not fail." Luke 22:32. He prayed for his friends.
What my heart knew now after my tears, and at a different level, was that Jesus spent time longing and longing to be with his friends, and he also spent time praying for them… just like we do. Do you long for the time when you can share a meal with your most intimate friends, especially when you are about to face something that feels like it is beyond your capacity to bear? Do you pray for them when you are concerned for them? I am sure we would all answer yes to that.
"The Last Supper" By Matthias Grünewald
Jesus longs to share his meal with me; with you! He spends time praying for me; for you! He watches and waits, hoping against hope that we will come to his table. He prays that we will not lose faith. Yes he still prays (intercedes) with the Father for you and for me, that we will not lose faith and he still shares his paschal meal with us. This means that Jesus is watching and waiting for me now, this minute, to come and eat with him. And for you too.
Yes of course I have known this all life, but I don't think I have ever seen it as deeply as I did this time when listening to the Palm Sunday gospel. I knew it to such an extent that I cried… such was the beauty of it… but also the relief of it.
Can you feel it? Can you feel his love, his invitation, his longing and waiting, his yearning for you? Are you aware that he is praying for you right now as you read?
I was grateful for the gift of tears… something I have never experienced before, in spite of it being in the Rule. And I am also grateful to my own biological father who, as we were growing up, and even into adulthood, always counselled us to never ever be ashamed of our tears.
KNOW that He is longing for you to come to His table.
KNOW that He is praying for you right now.
ALLOW the tears to wash over you now.
HE is risen!