Praying the Agony in the Garden and thinking about our country...
This morning while praying the rosary I was moved-struck-touched by the first mystery, the agony in the garden. (Luke 22:40-46) I was thinking about how much anxiety Jesus suffered the night he was arrested - so much so that he actually sweat blood. His anxiety was so intense because he is God; he is all knowing. That night, he knew what awaited him. But even more so, he knew what awaited us.
Jesus knew how our faith would be tested, and how many of us would fail... he knew the hell that would await us should we die in that rejection. Like a parent who agonizes over the self-destruction of a child, the Lord agonized over the self-destruction of souls. Not just one soul. But the countless souls who would be born and then lost, from that moment until the end of time. He agonized over the knowledge that his sacrifice would be meaningless to some... those who he loved with incomprehensible love. It was sheer torture. And there, in the distance, sat his closest friends sleeping under a tree.
Just imagine it. Here they are, on the brink of the very climax of the gospel. Everything is bubbling, about to boil over. Authorities seek and plot to silence him forever, to extinguish him from the planet. And the disciples -- those who professed allegiance to him and built their lives upon his word -- are sleeping!! They are so unaware, unaffected by the reality of what is happening that they drift off to dreamland contentedly.
As I thought about this, I looked across my house, out the entryway window. Daylight was breaking and the wind was blowing our American flag softly.... almost as if it was dancing to the rhythm of my prayers. At that, I heard the Lord say to my heart - quite clearly, quite powerfully, "My friends in America are sleeping."
A chill ran through my entire body. I knew exactly what he meant.
The world right now is on the brink of boiling over. Tensions are rising in every corner of the globe. Through new laws and widespread ideologies, authorities seek and plot to silence his teachings forever, to extinguish him from the planet once and for all.
And there, off in the distance, are some of his closest friends - the souls in America. A supposed Christian country, that once professed allegiance to him and built their lives on his word. Now, so unaware and unaffected by the reality of what is happening that they sleep contentedly. They sleep in a dreamland of tolerance and equality and free choice... while his betrayers pursue the death of him in darkness, for the riches of the day. They sleep while his word is silenced, his commandments are dismantled, his teaching is ridiculed, and his name is blasphemed.
And all the while, he agonizes. Because this time, it not HIS passion that will follow their pursuit, it is OURS.
Jesus told the apostles, "Stay awake, that you may not undergo the test." (Luke 22:46)
My friends, there is no way to say this gently. So I will say it plainly. If we do not listen for his voice, stirring us out of this slumber, we will awaken eventually to the test.... to the nightmare of his justice.
If we do not purposely rise from our sleep to stand with him, support him, defend him and do battle for him... then we will be shaken violently from our rest on a frightful dawn unforeseen and unprepared for.
His betrayers are working, plotting, seeking. And the passion is coming. But this time the cross will be laid upon OUR shoulders, not his.
The red stripes of his scourging will be seen upon our flag. The spittle will be felt in raging storms. His fall will be witnessed in our economy. The laughing, scorn and jeers will come from foreign nations. We will reach such a dire state that every last soul will thirst like he did. Until at last, the very heart of America is pierced and all freedom lost.
That which we use to offend him (freedom) will be taken from us. Mark my words. That is... if we do not wake up, America. That is, if we do not arouse ourselves from this weariness and lethargy!
It is humbling this morning, as a writer, to know there are not words in the English language to describe for you what I know in my heart to be true. But I pray that at least one small word in this pricks your soul and awakens it to a new level of fervor.
I pray that while reading this you somehow receive at least a spark from what is blazing in my heart - and it sets fire to your faith. I pray the spirit of the Lord breathes upon that and fans it into a furnace of power... of courage and strength and boldness.
I pray all of us -- Catholics, protestants, lutherans, Methodists, orthodox, Pentecostals, ALL Christian denominations -- receive the wisdom and courage to rise up, together, as his friends to publicly defend him and support him.
And to all those who are reading this, mocking it and rolling your eyes... be careful, friend. Just because you can't hear the alarm clock ticking, doesn't mean it isn't set.
Feel free to share if you feel led. Peace to all. And blessed be the Name of the Lord.