Today is a Passionist feast day. Every Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is the commemoration of the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
When I was professed as a Passionist in 1985, all eight in my class chose a title. I chose "Cedric of Jesus in Gethsemane." I was and continue to be moved by the sacrificial surrender of Jesus in that garden knowing he was facing such tremendous suffering. This scene has captivated my heart. Jesus’ prayer was one of surrender. He said, "Yes" to God and God’s will even though it would cost his life. The anxiety and duress during his prayer was so intense that Jesus’ sweat was like blood.
As we journey into Lent tomorrow, many are anxious. We wonder if this Lent will really make a difference in us. As a missionary, I worry whether my missions and messages will be well received. Many are struggling with finances, health, or relationships. Are you worried and anxious about something right now? Being nervous and stressed are epidemic and cause our pulse and blood pressure to rise.
Jesus’ surrender was on our behalf! His blood brings us healing. In this case, the blood he shed came as he faced severe anxiety and the certainty of a torturous death. I’ve discovered that when I meditate on Jesus in the garden surrendering himself in the midst of such extreme pressure, I am able to find a new serenity. I simply give my situations and cares to him because I know he paid the price for me to be free. A new strength and courage ensue.
Lent begins tomorrow. Every year we Passionists have this commemoration so we will surrender ourselves along with Jesus to God. We don’t have to be overwhelmed by our circumstances. As we begin Lent, we can find a place of serenity and freedom from fret because of Jesus’ sacrificial sufferings. My prayer is that your Lenten journey will be life changing beginning right now.
Fr. Cedric Pisegna, C.P. is a missionary preacher, author of 14 books and creator of television and radio programs airing in many cities. You can learn more about his ministry at: http://www.frcedric.org/