Do you ever have certain memories or conversations from your childhood that just stand out? I remember driving somewhere with my Mom once. We were talking about Jesus' death on the cross. I have a distinct memory blurting out, "Well Mom, I hate those people who nailed Jesus to the cross and killed Him. How could they do that?"
She smiled sweetly at me and explained it was the sin of the whole world that sent Jesus to Calvary, including both of us.
It was years later before I truly felt I knew what she meant.
When I read and sit with this Gospel, it makes me really uncomfortable. Deep in my soul, I know I am both Saint John the Beloved and Judas the betrayer. My relationship with Jesus has torn me down and built me up in ways I could not have imagined. I ache for the Living Word to transform me. I seek for an intimate relationship with Jesus as Saint John the Beloved had with Him. I cannot imagine what it must have been for Saint John to sit as Jesus' side, listening to the beat of His Sacred Heart.
But at the same time, I have to admit I am also Judas and Saint Peter. It is uncomfortably easy for me to grow lazy, ungrateful, and demanding with Jesus. I don't take that risk to pray with someone. I ignore those gentle promptings of the Spirit to more closely examine myself. I gossip and take God's name in vain. I complain and whine when Jesus leads me to difficult places.
I do not know what your forty days have been like. I do not know if you identify more right now with Judas, or Saints John and Peter. But wherever you are, sister, Jesus is waiting for you. He needs you to keep Him company in Gethsemane. Do not follow Jesus at a distance like Saint Peter in the coming days . . . stay near, be close by. Because in His suffering and agony, your name is ever on His lips and in His heart.
In the introduction to the book The Passion and Death of Christ Jesus, Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri says that "Saint Augustine also said that a single tear shed at the remembrance of the Passion of Jesus is worth more than a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, or a year of fasting on bread and water."
Whatever your Lent has been, draw close to Jesus. May each of us walk with this lonely road with Him.
Patty Breen is a runner, youth minister ordinaire, and thinks old movies are the greatest thing since sliced bread. When not fundraising for World Youth Day, she is learning to find grace in all things. You can find out more about her here.