The Triduum has begun. Mass is over. The Last Supper has been celebrated. The altar has been stripped. The Holy Presence is absent from the tabernacle. The lights and candles extinguished. It is dark. What have we done?
Many of us have retired to the side chapel to watch and wait with the Lord as He prays in the garden. We know that in moments His traitors will come and thus will commence the Passion of our Lord. But in this moment. Apart. In the quiet I can hear His prayer, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” Moments later He returns to prayer and again pleads, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!” He prayed thus a third time and then returned to His disciples, asleep. He wakes them. “Behold, the hour is at hand.” (St. Matthew 26:14-27:66)
How many times have I uttered a similar prayer as my Lord? Life bears on us, weighs us down with burden, tribulations and sorrow. ‘Take it away!’ ‘I don’t want it!’ ‘I can’t handle it!’ or so we say to ourselves. The Lord knows. He empathizes with us and (shows us what we can do). He places His will in God’s hands. His path will weave through venomous prosecutors, bear the mark of scourges and weave through an abusive crowd towards the cross.
Once, during a very difficult time in my life, I sought counsel from a close friend who was a professor of theology. I lamented how spiritually and emotionally painful the journey was. I was not convinced there was a light at the end of the tunnel. To my chagrin his consoling response was, “The only way to the other side is through.” I don’t know if my look was confusion or spite for such a pithy response, but he returned it with compassion and found another way to explain it, “Our Lord suffered, died, and was buried…and He rose from the dead.” He conquers death. He overcomes the pain, suffering, and taunting of his enemies. Jesus not only clears a path for us, He also walks with us here and now.
So now, we walk with Jesus to Calvary. We pick up our crosses: sorrow, ill health, desolation, whatever they may be. We walk with Christ knowing that the only way is through with hope and faith that there is a resurrection.