When Our Lord was suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was aware not only of the sins that had been committed in the past, but also of all the sins that would be committed in the future, compounding the betrayal and blasphemy that He suffered. Our Lord was in anguish because of the damage done to the sinner by his sins, and also the suffering caused to His beloved children. The horror of the sins of the whole world was so great that Our Lord sweated blood. When we consider Christ’s agony in Gethsemane and in His passion and death, it helps us to have heartfelt sorrow for our sins.
Our Lord was also aware of all the prayers, penances and works of charity that would be undertaken down the ages until the end of time, not only by the saints but also by His ordinary followers like ourselves. These good acts brought relief to Our Lord in His human nature, sustaining Him in His passion.
St Luke tells us that an angel came to strengthen Our Lord during His anguish in the Garden. The angel rejoiced with Our Lord in all the love that would be shown to Him until the end of time. We can be included in that strengthening and consolation of Our Lord.
It is true that the damage caused by sin, and the objective offence that it offers to God, is countered by the prayers and good works of the faithful, but reparation for sin is not simply a theoretical idea or a calculation. It becomes something more personal and vivid when we think of the consolation of Christ given by the angel. We also recall the loving meeting of Our Lord and Our Lady on the way of the Cross. Our Lady’s soul was pierced as by a sword, but she also gave loving and tender consolation to Jesus in His sorrowful journey. Then there was St Mary Magdalene who had so much love for Christ, and the other holy women who stood at the foot of the cross.
Among the apostles, Judas had betrayed Our Lord, and St Peter and the others had fled, but the young St John, the beloved disciple stood firm by the Cross to be with His Master, and was helped by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea who followed Him timidly but were there at the last.
It is a privilege for us to participate with these holy friends of Christ by having an an active and heartfelt love for Christ in His passion which actually helped Him along with those who stood firm.
Every time we put up cheerfully with our daily sufferings, every time we make a short prayer from the heart, every time we do an act of charity for others, we bring joy to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and truly share in His redeeming work.
By these acts, when they are made with genuine love, we also draw close to the Heart of Our Lord who invites us not only to be his servants, but even to be his friends, to be in the company of St Mary Magdalene, St John, and the other women at the foot of the cross and the men who finally showed up.
Our faith and our spiritual life is much more than a vague “being religious”, as the expression is today. We are called and chosen to have a genuine and personal share in the saving work of Christ who suffered out of love for us, to be so close to Him that we too may have the great honour of consoling His Sacred Heart.
Sermon preached by Fr Finigan at St Austin and St Gregory, Margate on 22 March 2015.