Throughout Lent, our weekly ePrayers include a special series of reflections on the upcoming Sunday readings. This reflection for Palm Sunday is from Senior Writer/Editor Larry Livingston.
The Garden of Gethsemane was, for Jesus, a dark and foreboding place. As soon as he began his public ministry, he was aware of his trajectory toward it, and he dreaded it because he knew what awaited him there.
It was in the garden that Jesus confronted the moment of aloneness. It was not just solitude that he felt and not mere loneliness. Nor was it the sweet ache of missing an absent loved one. Rather, it was a moment that no human being ever wants to go through, the feeling of supreme, terrifying abandonment.
Jesus dreaded such aloneness for the same reason any other human being would. We are made for community and it does violence to our nature when it’s taken from us. Our bodies and our minds can, if not nourished by communion with others, become prisons. We can’t bear the weight of such disconnection from the human family.
Separation from humanity also means a degree of separation from God, for more than any other source, it is through others that we come to know our Creator. Long before a child can speak or think rationally, it knows the love of God through its mother’s touch. For Jesus, who could say without hubris that “the Father and I are one,” to now be asked by that same Father to lay down his life was a torment beyond measure.
Jesus came through his experience in the garden with new resolve, and though more suffering awaited him, he picked up his cross and moved forward to Calvary and, ultimately, Easter. And so can we. That is the Gospel. That is the Good News.
Unbound sponsors make a financial contribution to help their sponsored friends lift themselves out of poverty. It’s deeply appreciated and vitally important. But just as important is the communion created between a sponsor and their sponsored friend. In the darkness of material poverty, where people can easily feel abandoned and uncared for, the light of knowing that someone has chosen them to help, personally and with intention, is an incredible gift.
That, too, is part of the Good News.
Loving God, from the beginning you said that it is not good for us to be alone. Help us to recognize our own need for communion and to nurture it by reaching out to others. May we recognize your presence in each person we encounter, and may compassionate service be our path to joy. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.