I’ve been spending some time reflecting on the talk given by Fr. Paul Lickteig during Tuesday night’s session of the Novena of Grace at St. Thomas More church. As I wrote the other day, the overall theme of the novena reflections is the capital sins, and Fr. Paul’s reflection the other night was on pride.
There were many things in his talk that I have and will sit with, but one thing struck me with so much force that it hasn’t left me. It was his discussion of Jesus in the garden.
Jesus has come from dinner with his friends. During the dinner, he tells them he is about to pour out his body and blood for them. Almost immediately thereafter (in Luke’s Gospel) the disciples start arguing about which of them is the greatest. Then Judas goes out to betray Christ. Then Jesus recognizes and foretells Peter’s upcoming denial. Then they go to the garden and his disciples fall asleep.
What must be going through the mind of Jesus (in all his humanness) at this point? It is easy to understand Jesus’ agony in the garden in terms of his imminent suffering. What Fr. Paul’s comments illuminated so starkly was Jesus’ doubt, his questioning about whether everything would go to pieces after he left. (Some of this sense is captured in the Gethsemane lyrics in Jesus Christ Superstar: “Can you show me now that I would not be killed in vain.”) The human Jesus, looking at these closest of his disciples at this crucial moment, must have wondered if his life had had – and his death would have – any meaning.
Yet, he trusted. He had the humility to rely on his Father, to be able to look into the blackness, the doubt, the questioning and say, I put myself in your hands.
As I was reflecting on this, what kept coming through my mind were the words of a song by Michael Card, titled That’s What Faith Must Be. The chorus lyrics that I heard over and over are:
To hear with my heart,
To see with my soul,
To be guided by a hand I cannot hold,
To trust in a way that I cannot see,
That’s what faith must be.
That’s what Jesus did. And looking at that, I pray: Let me hear with my heart, see with my soul and be guided always by your hand. Let me trust even when I can not see. Let me put myself in your hands.