During Lent we listened to Gospel stories, mysterious in content. The Holy Spirit drives Jesus into the hostile environment of the desert which is traditionally the place of temptation. Under pressure, Jesus never “loses” a sense of Himself through those difficult 40 days. In Luke’s Gospel, the devil leaves Jesus until “the appointed time.” This turns out to be in the Garden of Gethsemane where the physical fear of impending death challenges Him but He does not give in to despair.
We lose a sense of ourselves in the face of temptations; we look for a way out or turn to distractions when we experience our own desert; sometimes we are stronger for the experience but we can also be weakened by it; the pressure gets to us. Jesus had to commit Himself completely in the Garden of Gethsemane. Why should we think in our Christian life that it will cost us less than Himself to be constant in goodness?
When the Transfiguration was manifested on the mountain wreathed in mist, the Apostles were out of their element and out of their depth.
That’s a familiar place, to most of us at some point in our lives. The Father’s voice resounds again, harking back to the Baptism of Jesus confirming Him and blessing Him. After this powerful strengthening experience we are told Jesus sets his face for Jerusalem. He knows this is a contest He cannot win. But He is steadfast. He is resolute; He has no choices really, only in theory, He must follow the road to Jerusalem. This is a pattern in the lives of other heroic people whose choices are ultimately reduced to only one. Let us not exclude ourselves or think we are different from Jesus or the heroes in the choices we make.
On Good Friday we listen to the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I think the Good Friday liturgy is the most attended Church service because we understand pain and suffering, ours and others. The Adoration of the Cross gives us a brief moment to say that we may not always be resolute or steadfast, and to acknowledge we have an extraordinary God who loves us.
Resurrection is the biggest surprise in human history and it changes everything even though we don’t act as if it has. St Paul’s letters are interesting reading as he struggled to grasp the implications of the Resurrection. God gave us the end of the human story.