“You all will lose faith in me this night” (Mt 26:31)
JESUS IS LEFT ALONE
“When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8)
In this passage of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is speaking about his second coming, the one we are waiting for, the one in which each of us will be involved.
And what about his first coming? Sadly, when the Son of God came, He did not find faith on earth, but He was betrayed by the chosen people of God, Israel, who were supposed to recognise him as the Messiah. Another betrayal was also executed by the political authority of that time, Pontius Pilate, who was supposed to judge Him righteously and not to condemn innocent blood. And, worst of all, He was betrayed, disowned and abandoned by his closest friends, the disciples, those who knew Him more than anybody else.
“You all will lose faith in me this night” (Mt 26:31). This night is the night of the last supper, the night of Judas’ betrayal, the arrest, Peter’s denial. The night in which Jesus is left alone.
Although He knew that all these things were going to happen, He wanted to celebrate the Passover with his disciples. During that last supper, He gave them the total gift of Himself: his body and blood became the new Covenant between God and men, forever. The institution of the Eucharist shows the meaning of what is going to happen next: that same precious body and blood will be offered on the altar of the cross.
Why did He do that? He knew that everybody would have forsaken him, just few hours later. The answer is that God’s love surpasses any human understanding.
And, what’s more, Jesus still wants his disciples to stay with Him: He brings them to a small estate called Gethsemane, where the most bitter hours of his life will begin. He takes Peter, John and James with Him, but they are not going to contemplate his glory this time, as it happened on Mount Tabor. They are called to stay awake with Him and pray. Jesus is facing all his human weakness and anguish, and He does not keep it secret: “My soul is sorrowful to the point of death” (Mt 26:38). He does not conceal the innermost feelings of his hteart. No man who is close to death likes to be left alone. Everybody desires to be surrounded by the dearest relatives or friends. We need to feel that our loved ones are with us, feel the touch of their hands. And Jesus too, even though He is deeply immersed in the prayer to his Father, He comes back to the disciples three times, to seek their friendly help, the support of their prayer. But He finds them asleep. They do not realise what kind of sufferings He is enduring.
He is left alone in the middle of the battle between his spirit, who is willing, and the human nature, that is weak. And, at the end, love triumphs again: “My Father, if this cup cannot pass by without my drinking it, your will be done!” (Mt 26:42)
Dear friends, let us live this holy Triduum of our Lord’s Passion looking at Him, looking at how He endured all these sufferings just for love. And let us reflect upon Jesus’ inmost wish to find each of us awake, praying and surrounding Him with our love. Let us remain with Him, keeping vigil, as He follows the path of suffering that leads to the cross.
Dear Jesus, I have always looked at how much I need You,
but I had never thought that, in the most bitter hour of your agony,
You were looking for me.
You know I will betray, disown, desert You.
Yet You still ask me not to leave You alone,
and to love You back with my poor, little love.
Sweet Jesus, where do you need me to be?
What do You need me to do in the darkest night of this present time?
Where are You, so that I can make You feel my loving care?
So many brothers and sisters are dying alone in hospitals, because of this dreadful pandemic,
without the consoling presence of their loved ones.
Are You there, Lord Jesus?
If I am a doctor, a nurse, a care giver, help me to stay there with You, and fill with my love your last hours.
Whoever am I, help me to keep vigil, praying for this people as if I were there with them.
Thank You, Lord, for sharing the lot of humankind with us.
Thank You, Lord, for giving us new life, new hope and the whole Eternity!