If you read the passages from scripture used in the Masses and Liturgies of the Hours this week, you will notice the ambivalence that Our Lord must have felt during that last terrible week of his mortal life.
He looked forward to his sufferings and death, because by them he was to save all of humankind. Yet as the moment for them approached, he dreaded the suffering as any human being would. “The spirit is willing,” he said, “but the flesh is weak.” And he prayed, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup (of suffering) pass from me. However, not as I will, but your will be done.”
As they came to the last supper, he said, “With great desire have I desired to eat this Passover meal with you,” yet he was filled with sorrow to tell them that one of them would betray him.
Earlier, he had said to Saint Peter: you are rock, and upon this rock I will build my church. Yet now, he tells Peter with grief that before morning, Peter would deny him three times.
But the good prevails over the evil in this whole story, just as it will in the cosmic history of the world. The letter to the Hebrews tells us: For the sake of the joy which lay before him, he endured the cross, heedless of its shame. And as Judas leaves the supper table to connive with Our Lord’s enemies, Jesus says: Now is the Son of Man (the way he spoke of himself) glorified, and God is glorified in him. This is why, as painful and ordinarily as pitiable as death on a cross is, we place crucifixes in our churches and homes. By being lifted up on the cross, Our Lord drew all humankind to him that he might save them all. Jesus crucified is the source of our hope. And this week, we offer him our hearts full of gratitude and we pray in the words of the ancient prayer: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.