2nd Sunday of Lent
It was in a garden Adam and Eve conspired to take what was not for them (Gen 3).
It was in a garden that Susanna was confronted by the lawless judges (Dan 13).
It was in a garden David lost his way (2 Sam 12).
For our purpose we may consider the garden as the place we reveal our inner self. Our truth, who we are and what motivates us. Mastered or not-mastered self but for discipline and love. Or the lack thereof.
The garden is the state of the soul. For us and our common challenge is to overcome what is called The Tyranny of the Senses. There is nothing wrong with our senses. We are sensory beings but we are not only, merely or even mostly sensate.
We are body, soul and spirit.
Spirit self is our likeness to God, it is the reception to God like an antenna is to a radio.
Soul self is our conscience. The place of maturation, decision, mistakes, joys and hopes!
The body self is our action. The external movement that spirit and soul have decided.
When we see Jesus in the garden/mountain twice we gain a similar insight as the examples above but with a far better truth.
These moments of isolation, are witnessed by the privileged three (Peter, James, John). These three were invited also at the story of Jairus’s Daughter (Mk 5). But the two stories below offer something with a more amazing clarity!
The sympathy of God.
The Seven Signs of Jesus in the Gospel of John primarily speak to the power and credibility of Jesus, the divine law and prophet.
These garden moments are the Signs of the Sympathy of the Lord. Imagine a physician, a surgeon, with great skill to heal you but lacking in sympathy. Some can tell such a story. It is in the sympathy we discover the purpose and the entirety of the gift. Skill without sympathy is mere technical competence.
The Transfiguration (Matt 17).
In the Transfiguration was Jesus, and behold, Moses and Elijah appeared conversing with him. Law and prophet receiving the fruit of the completion of their work. Jesus’s sympathy for them, Moses and Elijah, is the reward to share in this moment of triumph.
Conversing about the Final Exodus. The sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb whose blood marks the lintel and posts. This is Jesus’ sympathy. His competence is power over death. His sympathy, his heart, is love for his creation. He acts out of love.
The Father attesting from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
The Agony (Matt 26).
The Agony and the Transfiguration are insights.
Jesus alone began to feel sorrow and distress. Luke tells us, “He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.
The body expresses the soul’s decision of the spirit work given by God, the Father: My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!”
The sorrow is the full weight of our sorrow and regrets from the first garden to the last garden. The sympathy of God is expressed in sorrow over the effects of sin.
How many different circumstances can you recount of parents in deep sorrow over their children? Do you need examples? Ask a mother whose child fell and suffered injury. Or worse.
How many parents faced with the unthinkable wouldn’t offer their own life for their children?
Is God sympathetic? Yes!
Ever attentive to big and small issues the Lord is always present. Earlier this week a gospel portion:
If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him (Matt 7).
Everything is ordered for our well-being. Including the heart of God. The Transfiguration is the spirit made and receiving the divine then soul deciding ‘yes’ to the divine and the body making manifest a decision to be divine in the body.
In two weeks we arrive at the Raising of Lazarus. Here too we will encounter the Tyranny of the Senses: Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (Jn 11). Here too we see the sympathy of God: And Jesus wept.
Tyranny requires a subject. One out of indifference, fear or powerlessness but in that state of affairs giving power to the tyrant.
God speaks to us through our senses but not our senses alone. If we are out of practice in the spirit we will tend to assess and evaluate only by senses. Ask your spirit to contemplate the sympathy.
Sacred scripture allows us to ask:
What does God feel?
What is he sympathetic about?
Does he understand me?
Does he understand my circumstances?
Contemplating the Transfiguration, Agony in the Garden and the Raising of Lazarus we get a sure and certain insight on his sympathy.
It is in the sympathy we discover the purpose and the entirety of the gift, the gift of himself.
As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Peace be with you,