• Sarah Raad


When we have hope in God’s goodness, we can have hope in the glory of God.

Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane (Paolo Veronese)

Today, as I write, little Baby Charbel, for whom we have been praying for some time, is undergoing yet another very very risky procedure to try to save his life.

He is already a great miracle. According to the doctors it is a miracle that he has survived this long.

The risks are massive – luckily so is our faith.

Children like Charbel are treasures so of course there is white noise that surrounds them.

Charbel’s parents are continually told that all is lost and there is no hope. Many times, this treasured child’s parents have been told that he would not survive. Many times, he lived. We pray now that he will continue to live secure in faith that if God calls Charbel to become a saint in Heaven that will be for the Good as well.

What greater desire does the evil one have, than to steal such treasures? It is not the physical life of Charbel that he seeks to steal, but the power of his soul!

God makes good from anything – and He gives and takes life according to the Good and only the Good. No power is greater than God, who is Goodness, and He can use the gift of life and the peace of death to bring great Good – whether we can recognise it or not.

Charbel is a treasured one because his soul is unstained. Not only has he been baptised, confirmed and anointed, but in praying for Charbel, God uses this tiny blessed treasured baby to collect up the rest of us sinners as we are called to pray for him.

This is a path to sanctification – surrender to God through prayer... And little baby Charbel, through the dignity of his parents who give him a voice while he cannot ask for himself, leads the rest of us along this sacred path.

What greater threat to the evil one is there than a mother’s love for her child? Is it not Our Blessed Mother who crushes him through her maternal love for her Son and for us, her adopted children?

And yet what unfathomable agony this child and his family suffer now as they await God’s will.

When we speak of the agony of our beloved Christ, we often focus on His physical suffering.

We venerate His wounds. We consecrate ourselves to the wounds of His stigmata, His crowned head, His beloved shoulder, His side, His knees, His skin, His back. In fact, we often pray and reflect that not an inch of His body was without physical pain. We commemorate his scourging and physical crucifixion. We see it in churches and our homes. We recognise the Cross. It is a physical reminder of a physical pain.

Yet, Christ’s physical suffering, though immense, was only an outward shadow of his mental anguish and the sorrows of his soul during his Passion and Death.

Before a physical hand was lifted against His sacred body, Christ – alone in the middle of the night – sweated blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. Blood. Not Sweat. Because even before a physical hand was laid on His sacred flesh, His soul was in torment.

Christ in His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane endured the spiritual and mental anguish of our sufferings and all of our rejections of Him that had been in the past, were happening in the present and would be in the future.

That means that Jesus – God himself – experienced baby Charbel’s pain and that of his parents and family, more than two thousand years ago on a lonely night alone. That means that Jesus – God Himself – experienced our pain too.

When His perfect soul was tormented by OUR pain, which was caused by OUR sins – NOT HIS – He did not turn it back on us as He had the power to do. He did not fling it back. Instead, through the infinite miracle of the Holy Trinity, Christ called on His Father, God the Father.

Though in the Biblical passages that we are familiar with, Christ is quoted as saying, “Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” The Aramaic word that Christ used for “Father” could be easily translated into the more familiar word “Daddy”. So really, Christ showed us that when we are suffering we should pray to our “Daddy”, God, who loves us as a flawless “Daddy” and wishes only to comfort us.

Now, when we say that we are not alone as God is with us through our suffering, we are not speaking in a symbolic or figurative sense. Rather, we mean that Jesus – God himself – foresaw our suffering in its every minute detail during his Passion and Death. Christ – God himself – has lived our suffering and continues to live it over and over again in every consecration and every Mass, which is the actual Passion and Death of Christ – not

commemorated – but experienced. He does that for us! So that we know He is with us!

God – because He loves us so much – sent His only Son, not only to redeem the world, but to endure our sorrows with us – because although through human frailty, WE merit them – HE did not.

God’s compassion is so infinite that we are NEVER alone. He literally knows our sorrows, because he lived them FIRST and now relives them AGAIN – over and over and over – just for LOVE of us.

So now, we pray and pray and pray. Just as God Himself did, in the person of Christ, in the Garden of Gethsemane, for who are we to think we above the flawless example of God?

I teach a lot of English, and the Romantic poet, Elizabeth Barrett-Browning said – and I believe her – that there are a million burning bushes on a million mountain-tops in the world, but only a handful of people take off their shoes on hallowed ground, the rest of us “sit round and pluck blackberries”.

Now, through my prayers for Charbel, I can hear the mystery within Christ’s words in that Garden two thousand years ago, and I looked down at the shoes upon my feet – and weep.

For we are the soldiers of God and there is yet work for us to do.

Because with Charbel everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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