Tuesday after the Second Sunday in Lent
He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14:37-38
The evening begins with Jesus and his disciples celebrating the Passover. A mood of distress is set at the beginning of the meal with the announcement that one of the twelve will betray Jesus. The anguish is heightened for Jesus because this is their Last Supper, something he knows the disciples are incapable of grasping. After supper, they come to the Garden of Gethsemane for a time of prayer. At some point, Jesus brings Peter, James and John to a place separate from the rest, and says to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here and keep awake.” Jesus goes a little further, throws himself on the ground and he asks his Father to remove the cup of suffering he is about to drink. He then submits to the Father’s will.
We can only imagine Jesus’ torment as he returns to Peter, James and John. Then to find them sleeping adds disappointment and hurt to his suffering. The level of distress, agitation, aloneness, anguish and fear that must be raging in Jesus are beyond our imagination, but yet, he is gentle in his rebuke of the disciples for falling asleep. And his reminder to them, and to us, is that regardless of our best intentions, we are weak in carrying out our resolve. Only by mindfulness and prayer can we receive the strength to maneuver the trials and conflicts of life.
Lent is a time when we are reminded of our weaknesses. It is a time when we renew our resolve and practice the discipline of keeping awake and being constantly in prayer. It is an essential part of our journey to the cross which allows us to live a life of resurrection.
Loving God, help us to be watchful and to see the loving sacrifice of your Son in all that we encounter so that we make his sacrifice worthwhile through our actions. Amen.
The Rev. E. Edward Shiley
Saint David’s Church, Radnor