Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
“Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you,” said St. Peter and all the apostles spoke similarly. And yet, as early as the agony in the garden, the disciples already abandoned the Lord. In spite of the fact that Jesus said, “My soul is sorrowful even to death,” the disciples even found the occasion to sleep and to leave Christ alone in his anguish. When the Lord was arrested, “they all left him and fled” including that mysterious young man who ran off naked. It did not take long for Peter to take his words back…he denied the Lord before the cock crowed. From then on, Jesus was alone. He was left alone to be surrounded by his enemies, mocked even by those sentenced to die with him. In the end, Jesus cried out: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” His anguished cry tells us that even the Father whom he loved abandoned him? It was a very lonely way to die. He was in the middle of people and yet he was alone.
And yet, the moment he died, the voice of the centurion was heard: “Truly this man was the Son of God.” And then came forward Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger, and also Salome. Then Joseph of Arimathea asked for the Body of Jesus. Also let us not forget Simon the Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, who seemed to be known to the writer of the Gospel as believers. And the naked young man? Wait for him on Easter Sunday! When I look at all of these, I could not help but remember what the Lord Jesus said last Sunday: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain. But when it falls and dies, it bears much fruit.” Indeed, Jesus is that grain of wheat that falls alone and dies. He died alone, abandoned by his disciples, forsaken even by his Father. Alone he fell and died. And yet when he died, he bore abundant fruits. The centurion, the women, Joseph of Arimathea, Simon and his sons, the naked young man, the weeping Peter…these were his abundant fruits. 2 Sundays ago, the Lord Jesus said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to myself.” You and I are here in fulfillment of what the Lord said. You and I are here drawn towards him who was lifted upon the Cross. If it were not for his lifting up, if it were not for his suffering and death, none of us would be here.
And so, as we enter Holy Week, let us make firm our resolve to gather around Jesus. Let us accompany him in his abasement. Let us join him in his sorrow. Let us thank for his love and sacrifice. Let us thank him for calling us to himself. Let this week be unlike all other weeks. Let us keep this week not for ourselves but for him who died for us. Let us not be ashamed of him. Let us not deny him. Instead, let us proclaim to the glory of God the Father: “Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!