Impatiently Waiting in the Garden
We, the Church, sit captivated, breathless after Passion Sunday. After 40 days of Lent… reflecting, sacrificing, repenting, we face the ultimate climax of the liturgical year, the Triduum. And yet as we sit during these early days of Holy Week, we are asked to be patient—to stay alert, to stay awake, to watch. We heard on Sunday what Jesus said to his apostles, his closest friends, “Sit here while I pray.” We know what happens next—zzzzzzzz. We, like the apostles, are shaken awake with Christ’s convicting, “Could you not keep watch for one hour?” And as always with perfect charity, Jesus gives his apostles another chance as He returns to his fervent prayer. Yet again, the apostles are asleep…. they can’t keep their eyes open! And when confronted on their inability to wait, to watch, to be patient and to trust, they have no answer.
This scene is not unfamiliar to us. But have you ever asked why? Why is it so difficult to keep watch? To stay awake? To be patient? To listen to this simplest of commands? Those are excellent questions! Patience is something we ALL struggle with… but our lack of patience is often closely tied to our lack of trust. The great spiritual writer Father Jacque Philippe highlights two major obstacles to our confidence in God in his masterpiece Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart: (1) our difficulty in believing in God’s Providence and (2) our fear of suffering. While a fear of suffering is pretty self-explanatory, his first assertion cuts a little deeper. He writes:
We cannot experience the support from God unless we leave Him the necessary space in which He can express Himself. I would like to make a comparison. As long as a person who must jump with a parachute dose not jump out into the void, he cannot feel that the cords of the parachute will support him, because the parachute has not yet had the chance to open. One must first jump and it is only later that one feels carried.
We are often impatient because we don’t know what it feels like to really trust in God’s Providence… we haven’t experienced it! How often do we get tired of waiting to discover God’s will for our lives only to hurry up and make our own plans? Father Philippe goes on to say:
We must clearly understand that there is an enormous difference in attitude of heart between one, who is in fear of finding himself wanting because he does not believe in the intervention of God on behalf of those who lean on Him, programs everything in advance to the smallest detail and does not undertake anything else except in the exact measure of its actual possibilities, and one who certainly undertakes legitimate things, but who abandons himself with confidence in God to provide all that is asked of him and who thus surpasses his own possibilities. And that which God demands of us always goes beyond our natural human possibilities!
So what are we to do? How do we stay awake? How do we not hit the snooze button through the remainder of Holy Week and the Easter season? We have to just take the leap. That means something different to all of us. It may mean ending that toxic relationship that is trapping you… it may mean deleting your facebook account… or avoiding other sites online that you shouldn’t be visiting. It may mean no longer taking contraceptives… drinking less… or getting help with your addiction. Maybe it’s a spiritual leap—adding daily Mass or a rosary in order to enrich your interior life.
Regardless of what that leap is, know that there is never a better time to leap than now! Holy Week is the perfect time to jump out of that plane and be carried by the merciful cords of the Father’s ultimate parachute—Jesus Christ’s passion and death.