Pushing the Limits

Excerpt from Take Time For Him: Some More

by Angela M Jendro

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Palm Sunday

Read the Gospel of Mark 14-15

Meditation Reflection:

Palm Sunday we recall together the Passion of Christ as well as the weakness of our
personal faith and failures in faithfulness. We remember His entry into Jerusalem
received by adoring crowds, quickly turning into Crucifixion and mocking crowds.
Like Peter, how we perceive our faith versus how we act under pressure is pause for
recollection. Peter’s exchange with Jesus at the Last Supper depicts the Christian
struggle well:
“Peter said to him, ‘Even though all should have their faith shaken, mine will not be.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.’ But he vehemently replied, ‘Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.’ And they all spoke similarly.” (Mark 14:29-31 NAB)
When has Peter’s attitude been our own? Complete confidence in our loyalty to Christ
– our faith in Who He is, our Hope in Him alone, our notion that our Love is undivided.
Yet, Christ knows the truth in our hearts. He knows the real limits of our faith, the
weakness of our hope, and the dissipation of our love when confronted with suffering
and disappointment. As long as God’s plan corresponds with our plan, we feel ready to
follow Him with magnanimous discipleship. Yet, when His will deviates from ours,
especially if it’s inexplicable to our natural understanding, we often falter.
The Passion of Christ’s love reveals our own tepidity. (Just consider how we complain
at reading or standing at Mass for the length of this Gospel passage. Yet how much
longer it was for Christ to actually endure!) Thankfully, Christ also redeems our failing
character by taking on our weak human failings Himself. Through the power of His
victory He infuses supernatural grace into our souls so that we may have His strength
to finally acquire in truth the magnanimous friendship with Christ we desired in
intention.
Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, in his reflections for the third station on the Way
of the Cross, reflected:
“Three times Our Savior was tempted on the mountain, and three times He fell on the way to Mount Calvary. Thus did He atone for our three falls – to the temptation of the flesh, the world, and the devil.”
Jesus experienced natural human aversion to suffering. Yet, in the midst of that stress
He turned to the Father instead of away. He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him; he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.’” Mark 14:35-36 NAB
Have we not all prayed the first part of this prayer?! Begging our Heavenly Father, “all
things are possible to You, take this cup away from me”. The agony of the deepest
human suffering pleads in these very words. The proverbial question we put to the
Lord – “if You are all Good and all Powerful, then why am I suffering?”

This mystery can only be understood in light of Jesus Christ. “But not what I will but
what You will.” God wills our eternal salvation. He wills it in conformity with respect for human free will. Human choices cause suffering, but God’s will directs all things, even the events of His Son’s suffering and death, to the triumph of love.
Most of the time we won’t know the particulars of how everything will play out, but we do know the final ending. Christ conquers – sin, human weakness, even death. Those who exalt themselves in sin will be humbled, and those who persevere in humility will be exalted. In Him we find healing, wholeness, strength, and eternal joy.
St. Paul promises that God works all things for good for those who love Him (Romans
8:28), not just some things. Christ promises the Cross to His followers, but He also
promises Resurrection. And the two are inseparable.
When things get tough, fallen human nature resists faith in the power of the Cross.
Sometimes it even mocks it like the passersby at Jesus’ crucifixion. In the account of Jesus’ Passion, individuals respond to His impending Cross in ways that we might be able to relate. I’ll follow until:
• Jesus isn’t Who I want Him to be. He won’t make me materially rich: Judas
• I’m tired or bored: Apostles asleep during Jesus’ Agony in the Garden
• I’m threatened: disciples fleeing the crowd with swords; Peter recognized by the maid
• I’m caught: young man in linen cloth
• I’ll cause a rift or make waves: Pilate
Even still, Jesus invites His betrayers into His mercy.
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Progress in our spiritual journey corresponds to how far we are willing to follow Christ. Hopefully each year, we walk a step closer to the Cross and abide with Him a little longer.

This Holy Week, let us remain with Him. Let us stay close to Him in prayer without
falling asleep or rushing off to distractions. Let us enter into the mystery of His
suffering, death, and resurrection by accepting the griefs within our own situations and dying to what we cannot change, so that we may rise with Him who can redeem every sin and every situation.

Consider:

First and foremost, consider Christ’s love for you. Reflect on how He has shared
in your suffering. Have you ever felt alone, betrayed, anxious, mocked, lied about, physically hurting, or exhausted? Remember that Christ walks with you through the pain to resurrection in Him.
❖ How can your love for Christ be strengthened?
o Jesus observed about us that “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”(Matthew 26:41). Consider times when you have experienced this.
o Have you ever sold out Christ for a worldly gain? Consider when you have prioritized money, status, or worldly acknowledgement over doing God’s will for you.
o Pilate’s betrayal sprang from “wishing to satisfy the crowd.” Sometimes we deny Christ by failing to speak up out of fear of being persecuted on His account. When asked “Are you a Christian?” or “Are you Catholic?”, how do you respond? Do you hesitate or qualify it? Or do you respond
confidently, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for
a reason for your hope” as St. Peter tells us (I Peter 3:15 NAB).
o What fears can the devil use to tempt you away from following the Lord?
How does he stir up your anxiety, and worry you into hiding, away from the Cross, like the other apostles?

Practical Application:

❖ Having identified the Cross in your life, intentionally carry it this week instead of
trying to escape it.
❖ Pray the Stations of the Cross or the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary this week

All Rights Reserved © 2020 Angela M Jendro

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