We can be remarkably resourceful and strong sometimes and phenomenally weak at other times. We can dig down and find the strength and courage to do miraculous things, and the next moment, just miss the point completely.
The disciples have done remarkable things whilst trekking around the countryside with Jesus. Chief among those remarkable things is their decision to leave home, family, livelihoods behind to follow Jesus. In today's Gospel we are in the Garden of Gethsemane where the group has just come from The Last Supper where very peculiar things had occurred: Jesus washing his followers' feet, the identification of the betrayer, the prediction of denial. And now the disciples see their master in great distress and they can't keep awake.
Jesus does not castigate them or berate them for their lack of fortitude. He accepts their behavior knowing he must blaze the trail ahead alone. He knows their weaknesses and knows they will face their own times of trial ahead, that they will face bravely and brilliantly, with moments of distraction and misdirection. I think that is part of being human. We find our way, lose it and find our way back. And we repeat this pattern over and over again, individually and corporately. Their are a number of great gifts in this cycle: one is that God's love for us is so great that it is always there for us when we find our way back; and two is the fact that finding our way back is a lot easier because we know of that great love.
Certainly we would prefer to remain undistracted and not misdirected. But if history and our basic human nature is any indicator, we will at some point find ourselves asleep in a garden when we should have been awake. Knowing that we will be forgiven our ineptness makes finding the way back a much easier journey.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.