Friday, April 6, 2012

Today I’m not posting—I want to keep my mind focused on bigger and more important matters than my own thoughts. To that end, I will (among other things), be walking through downtown Philly with my family while meditating on Christ’s Passion.
But I wanted to (literally) borrow a page from a meditation I found really helpful. It’s by Fr. Rich Veras and was in the Magnificat’s reflections on Holy Thursday this year. I think it makes a nice connection, actually, between the second guessing that can easily dominate our lives (per Barry Schwartz’s observations) and the greater reality that beckons us, often cloaked in circumstances we aren’t enthusiastic about.

The devil tried to get Jesus to doubt his Father, to doubt his Sonship. However, Jesus never faces temptation alone. Jesus never had been and never will be alone, neither in his divinity nor in his humanity. Not in his divinity, because God is  never alone but was, is, and ever shall be a community of Persons. Not in his humanity, because Jesus recognized everything as a sign of his Father. This night is not the first night that Jesus went with his apostles to pray. He invited them to come away with him on another occasion, and then they got to the place they saw a hungry crowd waiting and begging for food (Mk 6:30-34). Jesus did not look upon those people as an annoyance, but as the very face of his Father. He recognized in the presence of that crowd the presence of his Father relating to him, lovihg him, expressing his will, which Jesus knew would be greater than what he himself had planned. While the apostles wanted to send the people away, Jesus embraced the circumstances and thus affirmed that all reality is a sign of his Father.
                This is why the devil hates reality. This is why the devil deals in “ifs.” Earlier in the evening of Holy Thursday, Jesus showed how small is the tempter’s imagination as compared to reality. For the devil challenged Jesus to turn stones into bread. At the Last Supper, Jesus instead turns bread to God! Not because anyone has challenged him to do it. Not because anyone asked him to prove his Father’s love; but rather it was the merciful initiative of God, freely giving himself to us in the Eucharist.
                In the garden of Gethsemane, the devil is playing on Jesus’ imagination, as he once played on Adam and Eve’s in the garden of Eden. On this night , he is counting on Jesus fearfully imagining all the suffering that lay before him. However, Jesus vanquishes the devil when he says to the Father, “not my will but yours be done.” Original sin came because our first parents trusted their imagination of God over the reality of the gift of the beautiful garden around them. Salvation comes because that man who seems to be praying all alone is affirming the merciful love of God the Father even in the midst of the most harrowing circumstances. Reality belongs to the Father. In the end, all this suffering and death will belong to the glory of the Father shining forth in the victory of his Son.

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