Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Keep Watch and Pray!

Saint John's Seminary has arrived in Washington DC for the March for Life tomorrow. This evening there is a Vigil Mass at which Cardinal O'Malley will preach. Tomorrow morning we celebrate Mass with Cardinal O'Malley at the Sacred Heart Shrine and then go to the March. In between, from 5am until 6am, we will celebrate a Holy Hour for Life in the Crypt of the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Here is the homily I will preach at the Holy Hour. It is based on the Gospel of Matthew 26:39-46:
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.”  He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!” Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open. He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again. Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.
It was very dark.  In the middle of the night.  And Jesus sweat blood.  The Passion had begun.

Three times he found them sleeping.  All he wanted them to do was watch and pray.  Watch and pray.  While he sweat blood.  But they slept.

So many sleep through the dark night of betrayal we call the Culture of Death.  For Christ still sweats blood.

In a country where almost a quarter of all children conceived are killed.  He suffers still.

In a country which legalizes the killing of an old person, just because they have grown old. He suffers still.

In a country which injected poisons into their veins of thirty-five men last year.  He suffers still.

For whatever you do to the least of these, he tells us, you do to me.  And we just sleep.

We sleep, telling ourselves that its not a child in the womb, but a problem,  And then the Holy Father reminds us we are not dealing with a problem but a child, an “innocent and defenseless life…the innocent par excellence.” (April 11, 2014)

We sleep, telling ourselves that they’re old and the quality of their life has diminished its value.  While the Holy Father tells us, “human life is always sacred and always of quality…No human life exists that is more sacred that the other…” (November 15, 2014.)

We sleep, telling ourselves that the death penalty is simply justice, an eye for an eye.  While Pope Francis denounces all  “violence and revenge, public and private” and reminds us it is rooted in the sort of corruption which is an evil greater than sin.” (October 23, 2014)

Christ suffers still in the child, the old man and the prisoner on death row and we still sleep.

And when, for the third time, he finds his disciples still taking their rest, he has one final command: “Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Rise, let us be going.  See, My betrayer is at hand.’”

And so, my dear brothers and friends, in just a few hours we will arise at our Savior’s command, fully aware that his betrayer is at hand.  And we will walk with him and with every murdered innocent along the Via Dolorosa, in the sure and certain hope that the sun will rise, the darkness will be scattered and Christ will bring justice to the earth.