Ash Wednesday – the day my son had fallen from grace among his younger siblings. Truth be told, he had fallen from my grace as well. Play had gotten out of hand, and roughness turned to meanness. Bodies and spirits were hurt. So it was with an awareness of appreciation that I found myself sitting next to him, putting him back to bed after some nighttime shuffling of sleeping children, and remaining at his side. My rosary had not been said yet that day and it became the perfect reason to be with this child. In peace, in prayer. Remaining. And as his body settled into sleep, I felt my own lingering disappointment toward him melt away. A great grace for me and unbeknownst to him, for him, to spend these nighttime moments with my wayward child.
It’s always interesting how my heart, in prayer, turns merciful. God knows his children well.
“Remain here, and watch with me.”
“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and his said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go yonder and pray. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (Matt. 26:36-38)
We know what comes next. Jesus goes on a little father and returns to find his three closest disciples asleep. He had asked for their company. Perhaps it was just very late, perhaps the disciples were overwhelmed or exhausted, but in any case, they were sleeping and Jesus was disappointed.
“And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?” (Matt. 26:40)
“And again he come and and found sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.” (Matt. 26:43)
“Then he came to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” (Matt. 26:45)
Facing all He was about to suffer, Our Lord was anguished, distraught. Three times, he came back from soul-wrenching prayer and found his closest friends asleep. But there was no hint of that in the Gospel. Instead, mercifully, when the time came, he simply says, “Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” (Matt. 26:46)
The disciples may or may not have made an excuse, or apologized. In any case, Our Lord does not focus on their fault, or his feelings but moves on to the greater work at hand – the awful and agonizing way of the cross. Jesus’ desire is for us to remain with him. He wants our company. It is not always easy and many things conspire against it. But even when we “fall asleep,” he is always ready to forgive and move forward.
Our default is to be in communion with one another and to love. The next day, I began anew with my son. His siblings were willing to put the previous day’s conflict aside in order to play.
When we remain together with Christ, it is grace. In these moments, we gain the supernatural strength we need to remain with those who need us, just as I received the grace I needed to let go of my dark feelings from the day’s events. We are given, in prayer, what we need in order to give what we have received.
We, children of God, have all fallen from His grace. We have sinned and we have fallen asleep. We are in need of a savior. In these next few days, let’s remain very close to Christ as we remember the sacred events of our salvation – His suffering, death and resurrection. It is in our presence and in prayer that we are able to move into peace. As we go forward into these days of the Sacred Triduum, we have the perfect example of Love before us.
It is time to remain with the Lord. In prayer. In peace.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.