Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Amazing Grace

In today’s Gospel for the Tuesday of Cheesefare Week, which every year occurs on the Tuesday before Holy and Great Lent, the Church prescribes a rich Gospel lesson from the Mount of Olives. (see Luke 22.39-71, 23.1) The Church calls to our mind just how much grace God grants to us in our weakness. We hear of two accounts of His disciples being weak in the faith and what we might call spiritual stamina.

In the first case, we hear Christ praying in the garden while His disciples fall asleep. “Then He said to them, ‘Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.’” (Luke 22.26) We know the disciples fell asleep THREE TIMES before they finally awoke to the Lord being taken into custody by the guards. In the second case, during His trial, we hear Peter denying Him three times.

In both cases, His disciples were weak and fell into temptation. And in both case, Jesus forgives them. These are the same disciples who would become the Holy Apostles, and establish the Church with the authority of God. These are the same disciples who, though they followed Him for three years, still were not strong enough in their faith to bear with Him at the Cross. And Jesus STILL allowed them to grant the Holy Spirit to others through the laying on of hands.

God’s grace is revealed to us when we allow ourselves to trust in Him beyond all other things. God’s grace is poured over our heads when we allow ourselves to pick up our cross and follow Him. No matter how many times we may fall into temptation; no matter how many times we are too weak to stay awake and attend to Him; no matter how many times we deny Him; He is still willing to welcome us home into His Kingdom.

The Church offers us these lessons today as a preparation for Holy and Great Lent, a time of repentance and vigil. Great Lent will be upon us in a few days, and we will grow tired of fasting, yet we must stay awake. We will want to deny knowing Christ, yet we must be willing to suffer ridicule from others “just because” we are spending additional time in Church. And when we engage Great and Holy Lent to its fullest, then we will feel His grace, and what amazing grace it is!

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