back to list

Wake Up

main image

This weekend begins one of my favorite weeks of the Church year—Holy Week. The week that is set apart from every other week, for that is what the word “Holy” means, set apart. We take a week to recall the suffering and death of Christ so that on Easter Sunday, we can celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus and the hope of a new life in heaven for each of us. This weekend’s Gospel walks us through the whole account of Jesus’ suffering and death. As I wrote this reflection, I wasn’t sure what I could say that Jesus didn’t already say through His action of suffering and dying. He literally is showing us just how much He loves us. But as I pondered this account of God’s love for humanity, I was struck by a small detail in the Agony in the Garden that I had never noticed. Before Jesus begins His journey, He seeks the solitude of prayer in the garden. He takes Peter, James, and John with Him and then retreats to pray. He then returns three times only to find the apostles asleep. This threefold sleep that we see the apostles taking struck me for the first time because only a short while later, we see Peter deny Jesus three times.

While numbers do play a huge role in biblical history, the reason that the threefold sleep of the apostles struck me is because every time that I reflect upon the passion of Christ, I am caught by Peter’s threefold denial. Peter, who claims that his faith will never be shaken, denies Jesus three times. The seemingly insignificant mention of the threefold sleep of the Apostles is important because the early Church Fathers enlighten us to the fact that this sleep, that Jesus is calling Peter to awaken from, is not bodily sleep by spiritual sleep. His faithfulness to Christ will be tested and Jesus is calling Peter to wake up and be strong against the temptations. We know that Peter does end up falling into temptation and denying Jesus, however, this denial does not lead to death, but to life, as later, after the Resurrection, we see that Peter has the chance to affirm His love for Jesus three times.

As we begin the most sacred week of the year, Jesus is calling us to wake up spiritually, to not succumb to temptations, to not be unfaithful. Jesus walked this path of suffering so that we might know His love, His mercy, and His faithfulness to us. Let us take this week, especially Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, to walk this journey with Jesus. Come sit with Him in the silent garden after Mass on Holy Thursday, let Him strengthen your hearts against temptation. Then come kneel with Mary and John at the foot of the Cross on Good Friday as Jesus died for you, and lastly, come rejoice on Easter as we proclaim with joyous hope that JESUS CHRIST has risen!