Lessons from Gethsemane

 

The Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem is a 1200 square meter garden near the Mount of Olives. The name means “oil press,” and olive trees grow in the garden to this day. Since we were children, we’ve all heard the story of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane just before His betrayal.

We read in Matthew 26:39  “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’ ” In verse 42 He continues: “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

At this point, we see the human side of Jesus. He is about to die an excruciating, horrible death — one which He did not deserve — and His human side was terrified. Luke tells us that Jesus sweated blood. This is medically possible and occurs only under extreme anguish.

So what does Gethsemane teach us?

It teaches us that Jesus knows on every level how it really feels to submit to God’s will, and He expects no less from us.

It teaches us that it is not a sin to sometimes be reluctant to follow God’s will, as long as we submit to it anyway.

It teaches us the magnitude of His love for us: in order to completely take our sins upon himself, He was to be completely destroyed — physically, spiritually and emotionally.

But it teaches us something even more profound: He prayed …”if it is possible.” If there was some other way for mankind to be saved from their sins, Jesus prayed for the alternative. And then he prayed “…if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

It was not possible.

And to this day, it is still not possible. The ONLY way for our sins to be cleansed is to be washed away by the blood of Jesus.  In His own words: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6

 

 

Knock on Wood

Often we look down on the superstition in which we use the phrase, “Knock on wood” – and proceed to do just that: Knock on a table or a door or whatever wood is handy. It didn’t begin as a superstition, though.

In some circles it is believed that the origin of the phrase and practice comes from the wood of the rosary. Rosaries in the old days were made of oak wood and were fingered in time of distress or trouble. Thus, holding on to, touching or rubbing the wooden rosary or its wooden crucifix when danger was near became a common way for Christians to deal with hardships and difficulties.

The practice slipped into common use as “Knock on wood.”

Life lessons from Robert Louis Stevenson

These life lessons come from Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote Treasure Island

Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things.
Make the best of your circumstances. No one has everything, and everyone has something of sorrow intermingled with gladness of life. The trick is to make the laughter outweigh the tears.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t think that somehow you should be protected from misfortune that befalls other people.
You can’t please everybody. Don’t let criticism worry you.
Don’t let your neighbor set your standards. Be yourself.
Do the things you enjoy doing but stay out of debt.
Never borrow trouble. Imaginary things are harder to bear than real ones.
Since hate poisons the soul, do not cherish jealousy, enmity, grudges. Avoid people who make you unhappy.
Have many interests. If you can’t travel, read about new places.
Don’t hold post-mortems. Don’t spend your time brooding over sorrows or mistakes. Don’t be one who never gets over things.
Do what you can for those less fortunate than yourself.
Keep busy at something. A busy person never has time to be unhappy.

Proverbs 31 and the divorced woman

I recently received an email from a reader whose marriage was headed for divorce. She was worried for herself and her children, and concerned that she could no longer live Proverbs 31. This is my response to her…

God raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament, a sacred sign of love and unity between yourself and your spouse, the Church. He gave married couples the grace they need to live together in love and harmony. Jesus decreed that marriage was to be a livelong commitment. 

Yet, sometimes that grace seems out of reach for you and the one you once loved and married. Your love has vanished, your marriage has faltered and your children have certainly been harmed. At times like this, pray that God will teach you both how to regain what has been lost, to change all that can be changed and to accept whatever cannot be changed.

It may not be God’s will that you be restored to a life together. Ask God to keep you from regret, resentment and fear. Ask for His divine mercy upon your children, your spouse and yourself. Pray that the problems that led to this situation may be the occasion for growth in both of you, and will lead you to greater respect for each other, mutual pardon and deeper faith.

Don’t think that God is punishing you. God doesn’t punish. He loves us unconditionally and He knows we’re all imperfect. And don’t punish yourself. It wasn’t meant to be, that’s all. Don’t give up. God loves you and you need to have faith and trust in Him. Things work out for the best, and someday you will look back and understand why things happened the way they did. Stay strong and remember that God loves you and is always with you. That is what living Proverbs 31 is all about!