• Sarah Raad


“I believe in Christianity, as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.” (C.S. Lewis).

The Agony in the Garden (Raffaello Sanzio)

It is a terrible thing to anticipate suffering, punishment or agony.

I can remember myself as a little girl hearing my mother’s threat that because I had been naughty I would have to wait until my father came home to “deal” with me. With hindsight, I wonder why I ever worried at all. After all, my father is a very quiet sort of man, and he rarely got involved in disciplining his children unless it was a very serious matter. The main disciplining in our home came from my mother, who was a sort of expert at managing the punishments and communications that are involved in any good form of equitable discipline. But there was an anticipation of pain and disappointment that I would cause my father, and that was enough to often get me to behave…

Sometimes, I think that one of the most frightening things in the whole world is the anticipation of terrible pain or anguish or punishment.

I have been thinking about this anticipation over the last few days and weeks, and each time I turn my mind to this reflection, I see immediately before me a scene which we are told about in the Gospel…

“And there appeared to Him an angel from Heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and He said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.’” (Luke 22:43-46).

The First Sorrowful Mystery of the Most Holy Rosary is the Agony in the Garden. And how Christ suffered this great agony!

I cannot even imagine the anguish that He experienced that caused His Holy Blood to come through His Skin. I cannot imagine the horror of offence and the horror of sin – from all time – that He experienced. How it tortures Him!

And yet, when I was a little schoolgirl, one of the priests at my school told us that in the Gospel, when Christ is quoted as teaching something, He always begins by saying, “I tell you most solemnly…”. This is interesting – noted the priest – because this implies that Christ was a funny guy and was often joking around with His disciples. If Christ were not often joking around, He would have no need to clarify when He was being serious – or solemn – compared with when He was joking and there would be no need to ever say, “I tell you most solemnly…”, because everything would have been solemn…

I have been thinking about that joy of Christ, because Christ is God and that means He could anticipate His death – He foretold it in fact…

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life…. Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.’” (Matthew 16:21-24).

And yet, still He laughed and He joked and He was happy with them to the extent that He needed to clarify when He was being serious…

Even knowing what was to come – even anticipating the suffering that he would endure – Christ was JOYFUL!

It is not that He was ignorant or stupid and misunderstood that suffering to come. After all, Saint Augustine, the Great Doctor of the Church said, “Ignorance itself is without doubt a sin for those who do not wish to understand; for those who, however, cannot understand, it is the punishment of sin.” And as Christ was WITHOUT sin, He could not be described as ignorant!

What it is, is that Christ ACCEPTED PERFECTLY the Divine Will of the Father.

He demonstrated perfectly through His Life and Death and Resurrection His own teachings, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25).

And this demonstration perfectly coloured everything that Christ said and did!

This reminds me of the words of the Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, who said, “I believe in Christianity, as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.”

And that is how I want to be – anticipating with PERFECT ACCEPTANCE! A thing only possible through GRACE!

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

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