See how tenderly the angels comfort Jesus in his anguish. He longed for such compassion from his friends, but they couldn’t do it. They disappeared into a panacea of sleep. We rely on Jesus to be with us in everything, but will we be with him in all he must endure?
Last year on Maundy Thursday when I was doing the Ignatian Exercises, Jesus turned to me and said, “Esther, stay with me.”
I swallowed hard and asked God for the grace to be able to be with him. Then I closed my eyes and imagined myself in the Garden of Gethsemane.
On that night when Jesus was about to be betrayed, his heart was heavy with sorrow. Peter, James and John were asleep, deaf to his painful pleading. I wanted to put my hands over my ears. It was heart-wrenching to hear Jesus so deeply distressed. He paced and cried out, “Please… Father… take this cup from me.” He fell on his knees, covered his face with his hands, and wailed.
“God, do something!” No sooner had I said the words when angels came and comforted him.
I asked God, “Can I go and comfort him too?”
“Go,” God said.
I ran to Jesus and wrapped my arms around him. He clutched on to me so tightly I could barely breathe. He was trembling. Tears soaked into my shirt.
After a long time he sat back and looked me in the eyes. “My Father has asked me to go to the cross and die for you,” he says wiping his cheeks. “And I will go.”
“Don’t do it for me,” I said, “Am I really worth it?”
“Are you worth it?” He shakes his head. “How could you be with me all this time and still not know that you are the treasure of great price, the pearl that I have sold everything for? The thought of not being with you forever is what convinced me to say yes. I will do it for you and for them (he looks at the sleeping disciples) and for all.”
I touch his face and kiss his wet cheek. I hold his hands and rub the spot where the nails will enter. “Remember my touch when you are dying,” I say. “May that memory soften the pain.”
“Thank you,” Jesus says and hugs me. “I’m glad you’re here.”
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Matthew 26:38 (NIV)
Maundy Thursday reflection:
- Will you keep Jesus company this week?
- See what unfolds when you do.