Sooner or later, each of us has a Gethsemane moment

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April 17/Wednesday of Holy Week

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Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak, I looked for sympathy, but there was none; for consolers, not one could I find.I will praise the name of God in song, and I will glorify him with thanksgiving. ~ Ps 69:20,30

On a recent trip to Jerusalem, I was deeply moved by a visit to the Garden of Gethsemane and to the Church of All Nations that is accessible through the garden. When I walked into the church, my eyes rose above the crowds of pilgrims touching the stone where Jesus is said to have rested as he spent that terrible evening in the garden. Looking upward towards the apse, I gazed upon the deeply moving depiction of Jesus, his stark solitude belied by the vivid colors. As I walked through the garden, I could imagine Christ alone, deserted, tempted towards despair as he struggled with God’s will, with nothing but a few ancient olive trees for company. Sooner or later, or perhaps repeatedly, each of us has a Gethsemane moment.

It may be the inconsolable grief of losing a spouse, the crushing experience of a job rejection or some other disappointment, the piercing pain of a divorce, or even the isolation that comes when we express unpopular or counter-cultural views. At such times, we may feel alone in our agony. Like the psalmist, we look for consolers, and not one can we find. Our friends are busy, our family members are distracted and we are left on our own. But if we can but voice our grief, desolation or despair and ask God to take it on, if we can pray to accept this moment as part of God’s will for us, then we may find deep and lasting solace. And we may be able to say, as Isaiah’s suffering servant does in today’s first reading, “The Lord God is my help; therefore I am not disgraced.”

O God whose love is unwavering, whose compassion is abundant, ease my pain, and comfort me in times of grief and sadness.Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

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