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Lenten Rosary Reflections: The Sorrowful Mysteries

(c) 2021 Josephine Lombardi (Excerpts from Living with the Rosary Expanded Edition available on homepage with a $10.00 donation)

The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46)

This mystery reflects the great tension between our individual free will and God’s will. This is especially difficult when we are faced with the possibility of great emotional or physical pain. In the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, Jesus refers to his cup as the “cup of poison.”

Throughout our lives, we need to examine those cups we choose that are not intended for us or for our fulfilment. God may be saying, “I did not ask you to drink from that cup. I did not ask you to make that choice or take on that new cross.” Yet at times, we find ourselves drinking from a bitter cup that we cannot seem to avoid: a new cross has developed in our lives, we are misunderstood, a confrontation needs to take place, a serious illness is diagnosed, or we lose a loved one. The list can go on and on. How many of us ask God to deliver us from these cups? For some reason, known to God alone, there may be times when we are called to drink from them, meaning we are called to endure these crosses. While we know that Jesus is vindicated and rises from the dead, many of us do not know the outcome of drinking our own “cup.” The challenge here is to trust that God’s will does not involve our destruction. God is in the restoration business, not the destruction business. God’s will involves transformation and new life because God can redeem those painful “agonies” when we feel alone. Since the resurrection vindicates love and truth, God will redeem our sorrows as well. There will be “angels” who sit with us as we wait for restoration. Pain can be harder to bear, however, when our pain is made public.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his Meditations on the Cross, wrote that it is infinitely easier to suffer publicly with great honour; it is infinitely harder to suffer publicly with great shame. Has the thought of your pain being made public made you vulnerable? Have you ever publicly shamed someone? “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me,” Jesus says (Matthew 25:40). Mary was bound up in the public pain of her Son. To be public with our pain and vulnerability can be humbling and difficult, especially when we desire privacy.

Let us remember all people experiencing vulnerability and public humiliation: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for all people experiencing vulnerability, drinking from the “cup” of public humiliation.