Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Passion Reflection #2 - Peter and the Battle of Prayer

What a scene the Passion of the Christ begins with; tension, fear, foreboding from the first few seconds of the film.

On the night Jesus was handed over, he made his way to the Garden of Gethsemane, taking with him his three closest friends; Peter, James, and John.

How beautiful that Our Lord has these levels of intimacy; the family friends of Bethany, the Twelve, and these three men who have walked with him now from the beginning. (What are the levels of intimacy in your life? Do you have a trinity of souls to share your sorrows with? Two friends? Even one is a tremendous blessing).

But in the mystical, moist night air of the Garden of Olives, Christ is alone. His friends sleep while he burns in the fires of sorrow. Pressed down by the weight of the world's sin, he is living out in his body what the name of this place embodies; Gethsemane is a Hebrew word meaning "olive press." Jesus is fully man, and fully God, and he knows what is coming. Yet blood flows from his anxiety. His capillaries break under the anguish and strain of what lies ahead. But not only blood; the sweet oil of mercy flows out. Oil rich enough to light the lamps of countless souls for a billion centuries.

Torches appear in the murky shadows. Peter awakens and comes to Our Lord. But he has not prayed, he has not been pressed. He is not ready for this encounter. His reaction to Jesus' arrest will be reprimanded by the Prince of Peace; "Put away your sword, Peter. For those who live by the sword, die by the sword."

Bishop Fulton Sheen once spoke of this moment of Peter's. Without that solitary encounter with God, that quiet communion with Him in prayer, we do not receive His oil to light our lamps. We are operating on our own devices. We move out of our own initiative, rather than by the spark of the Holy Spirit's.

Peter has been sleeping while Christ has been praying. If he had been in communion with the Lord, "watched one hour with him," what might have happened?

So for us.... What fuel are we running on? What impels us to do the things we do? Is it coming out of that stillness we have spent in the Garden of Prayer, or from somewhere else? Perhaps from our own busyness, our own agenda, our foot in the door and last word opinion?

Step into His stillness then. Sit and pray in this Garden of Shadows and watch one hour with Him. Let Him tell you when the time is right for action.
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