March 01, 2022
From Ash Wednesday (March 2) through Good Friday (April 15), Bishop Saenz is offering a new video series for Lent he’s calling “Cross Walk.” This Lenten journey is a contemplative pilgrimage through the drama and chief scenes of Christ’s sufferings, death, and burial based on fourteen biblical Stations of the Cross found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The hour for Jesus to glorify God had come. The cross is before him. He is anguished and sorrowful because of the inhumane suffering he knows awaits him. He pleads with God, in fervent prayer, for a way to avoid the cross. He prays that God provide another means to accomplish the salvation of humanity without the cross. God answers Jesus’ prayer, not with deliverance from the agony of the cross, but with the granting of spiritual strength and courage to endure the cross and conquer it through his suffering, death, and resurrection.
Jesus is alone in the garden. His three most trusted friends are nearby, but tired and asleep, seemingly aloof about his distress and suffering. The disciples do not feel for Jesus, or weep with him while his captors are coming armed with swords under the cover of night.
Time is running out. Will Jesus run away or stay and embrace the cross?
I visited the Garden of Gethsemane in the Mt. of Olives in 2019 and 2020 with fellow pilgrims from the Great Plains Conference. The Garden of Gethsemane is located on the eastern edge of Jerusalem’s city limits. Further east of the Garden, just over the hill, is the wilderness. Our tour guide said that Jewish law prohibited a Jew from leaving the city limits during the Passover.
Wow! Jesus was at the edge of the city limits of Jerusalem and could have easily fled into the wilderness and escaped capture and the agony of the cross – but he did not! He courageously remained in place and did not run away, even as he saw trouble coming his way in the form of his captors making their way up the Mount of Olives to apprehend him.
Perhaps today you’re facing a situation that you desire to avoid and run away from. Remember Christ in the Garden. He has something to show us. That is, to trust in God’s love and ultimate deliverance, especially when we are facing troubles, even death.
As we contemplate the first station of the cross, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we come to the throne of God with boldness to pray for two graces.
The first is for the grace of a deeper prayer life, attentive and responsive to the sufferings of others near and afar.
The second is for the grace to do God’s will and not run away when God calls us to embrace difficulties for the sake of others.
Let us pray: We adore you O Christ, because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world. You sympathize with our human weakness, tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Grant us the graces we need to boldly live for you in holiness of life. Amen.