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  • Sarah Raad

Allowance

“Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’” (Matthew 26:39).

Jesus Dies on the Cross (Jen Norton)

Goodness me, but these lockdown restrictions seem to exhaust me today!


It started rather innocuously with one little thing over 18 months ago… Stand 1.5 metres away from others – harmless enough really… But then they added the masks. Then they said stay home where possible. Then you could have a few visitors to your home. Then none at all. They closed the churches, then the schools. At first, we could not wear masks, then we had to wear them. Then, we had to stay inside at night-time. Then – yesterday when a dear one called the hospital – they heard the recorded voice mail of a major arterial hospital in Western Sydney advising… “If you are feeling unwell, please stay at home.”


That is right. Only healthy people allowed into that hospital!


Now, I am obviously being capricious. After all, I understand the intention behind such a poorly communicated message and I understand the intention of all these rules and restrictions. But when I heard about that message on that hospital’s voice mail yesterday, I had to stop and laugh because it truly appears that the world has gone mad!


But in all this madness, the impacts are very real. More people are suffering from serious complications with their mental health. More people are suffering from ailments that are not life threatening, but still difficult to bear. More people are afraid and alone. More of the world’s poor are suffering – starving because economies have stopped moving and the world seems to have forgotten about them. More people are dying alone. More people – en-mass – are forbidden to receive the sacraments than at any other time in history perhaps…


It all seems very difficult and dreadfully unfair.

Somehow, while I was reflecting on these difficulties and this unfairness, it occurred to me that despite all of this, we are called to pray as my Beloved prayed…

“Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’” (Matthew 26:39).


This moment of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is perhaps the most profound and moving moment in all the Gospels – and the entire Bible – for me. And as such, this passage is very often a focus of my meditations… because in that Garden my Beloved suffered and He was alone…


Saint Faustina wrote in her diary entry 1507, "But poor is the soul who has shut the door on God’s mercy, even at the last hour. It was just such souls who plunged Jesus into deadly sorrow in the Garden of Olives; indeed, it was from His Most Merciful Heart that divine mercy flowed out."

His friends deserted and betrayed Him, and the other Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity had to leave Him to bear this suffering alone. And for Christ in that Garden, it was the beginning of the End. And He was entirely alone, for my sake – and for yours – and it surely felt dreadful knowing how many souls would reject His terrible sacrifice...


He was so alone in His suffering, that the angels descended to give Him strength to bear the humiliations and offences that He would bear in His Soul and on His Flesh…


And yet, despite being entirely alone in that Garden, my Beloved said, “Yet not as I will, but as You will.”


There is MIRACULOUS HOLINESS in that if only we could really see it for what it is!


It is easy to reflect on Christ’s surrender of His Will to the Father as a theoretical ideal.

After all, when we consider this action of Christ as a theory, it is easy to think… Yes of course Christ could do such a thing. After all, He was clearly surrendering to the Father’s will. He could see God’s work in what He was surrendering to and therefore the surrender was somehow easier for Him than it would be for me. After all – I often think – if I were in Christ’s position, I too would be easily able to surrender to the Father’s Will because it would be so clear to me as it was surely clear to Christ.

How many times I have thought to myself in such ways as this?... Of course, Christ surrendered. It was CLEARLY GOD’S Will that He must die – obviously. He was BORN for that moment… If I were in Christ’s place, I too would have surrendered. I too would have done the same. How clear my course of action would appear to be to me.


How many times have I justified my actions in such ways as this?... But in MY case, I cannot surrender, because that would NOT be God’s Will. In my case, the rules are unfair, or my manager is, or my family is unfair to me, or my friends. In my case, the government is unfair to me… This is NOT God’s Will, this is the bureaucracy. This is NOT God’s Will, this is unfair.


How many times, have I smugly added in such ways as this?... But if I were Christ, I would be able to surrender to the Father’s Will, because then it would be OBVIOUS and CLEAR that I was BORN for that surrender. But in MY case – right here and now – this is not the Father’s will! Why should I give in? This is not what GOD wants – only what my manager says, or my husband, or my family or the government.


And yet…


Christ was not betrayed by God the Father, or deserted by Him either. It was His dearest friends in all the world who betrayed and deserted Him that night. And they did not do it for any great reason, they did it for money, and they did it in fear…


Christ was not captured by God the Father’s own hands. Those soldiers who came in the middle of the night to carry Him away were men – like you and me – following orders. And they did that not for any great reason, they did it for money, without any regard for anything greater than that…


Christ was not judged and condemned by God the Father. Pontius Pilate washed his hands of Christ, and it was he who approved Christ’s execution at the request of a small group of corrupt religious leaders. And he did it for politics and power and to hold on to his authority, without any regard for anything greater than that…


And Christ was not scourged or crowned or nailed by God the Father. The Roman soldiers did that to Him instead, and they did it willingly, unflinchingly. And they did it because they were following orders, without any regard for anything greater than that…

And so, when you remove the theory from the action, it is suddenly very clear how far away from Christ the Father must have seemed during those last days of His Earthly life.

After all – when Christ said, “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” – He was saying that in the face of soldiers, and government and judges and corruption, it was NOT the Father’s own Hand moving these things, but the Father allowed these things to move, and this ALLOWANCE was PROOF of the Father’s Will to Christ who has PERFECT faith...


There was no flashing neon sign above anyone’s head saying, NOW, NOW, THIS IS THE MOMENT FOR WHICH YOU WERE BORN. There was no evidence that this was the Father’s Will other than the fact that it came to pass… For with perfect Faith we must surely know that all things are moved to the GOOD by the Father’s Will…


And what a miracle of faith was this surrender of Our Blessed Lord. For the only evidence available to the naked human eye was the darkness and the unfairness and the horror – and yet, seeing such things with his naked eye, my Beloved persisted in His surrender to the Will of the Father, who allowed such things to pass.


And once I realise this, the words of Saint Paul of the Cross have such a depth of meaning. “How is it possible to offend a God scourged, a God crowned with thorns, a God crucified for us? And how is it possible, that seriously pondering these truths of faith, we can yet offend God?”


For there is such a miracle to behold in such a surrender as that. For CLEARLY nothing of God’s hand was clear in it at all. And yet – it was the Holy Hand of God who allowed all this to pass…


It is surely the single greatest feat of faith ever witnessed in all the word that the Son of Man “…fell facedown and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’” (Matthew 26:39).


And in finally seeing that surrender for the blessed miracle that it truly is, how I weep to feel my own inadequacy in the face of all the little inconveniences of my life today.


How sadly I now weep…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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