Wake-Up Call (Palm Sunday)

Then Jesus went with his disciples to the garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray”. (Matthew 26: 36)

Early in my marriage I had the habit of becoming extremely drowsy whenever my wife wanted to deal with a difficult issue. It was a highly inappropriate psychological coping mechanism, and I had the hardest time overcoming it. Try as I might to appear alert and interested, I kept falling asleep. Needless to say, that did little to endear me to my wife.

And so I have a bit of sympathy for the apostles who accompanied Jesus to the Mount of Olives and promptly fell asleep. Jesus expressed his tremendous sorrow and asked them to keep watch. But time and again they dozed. I imagined it wasn’t only the wine from the Passover meal, nor the lateness of the hour that had them dropping off to sleep. I suspect that fear had a lot to do with it. here was the person who they could most count on in any difficult situation – the one who stood up to the temple officials and who calmed the stormy seas – and he was clearly in great turmoil.

I think we all tend to snooze – literally or figuratively – when fear strikes. We can give in to the urge to hide in bed with the covers pulled over our heads when life gets uncertain or scary. But time and again Jesus tells us, “Fear not”. On Good Friday, Jesus walks head-on to face humanity’s greatest fear – suffering and death. If we don’t sleep through his Passion, we’ll be awake for his Resurrection.

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