Facing Facts

There is a line in today’s first Mass reading (Isaiah 49.1–6) that may have haunted Jesus during the course of this week:

I was thinking, ‘I have toiled in vain, I have exhausted myself for nothing.’

How many of us have felt like that when something we cared about greatly has ended in apparent failure? It may have been a project or a relationship, even what we understood to be our vocation in life. Was Jesus troubled by such thoughts in the days between his entry into Jerusalem and his anguish in Gethsemane, the thought that he had failed his Father, failed in his mission? Failure is hard to bear and is made harder still when we believe we have done everything we can to ensure success. We cannot even comfort ourselves, if that is the right word, with a regretful ‘if only I had done so and so.’ There was nothing more we, or Jesus, could do; there are no alternative scenarios we can invent to take refuge in, we must simply face facts.

Facing facts is what Holy Week is about: facing the facts of sin and death and seeing how they are transformed by Jesus’ acceptance of death on the cross and his resurrection on Easter morning. This is the week when Jesus’ love and trust were tested to the utmost, when he plumbed the depths of human despair and suffering and rose triumphant. We must do the same. We must learn afresh our need of God, experience again our utter reliance on him, if we are to share his resurrection. That will mean, for most of us, plumbing the depths of our own sin and failure, bringing to God all that we are, all that we have failed to be, trusting, as Jesus and the prophet Isaiah trusted, that

all the while my cause was with the Lord,
my reward with my God.
I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord,
my God was my strength.

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9 thoughts on “Facing Facts”

  1. Thank you Sister Catherine for another insightful reflection. Acceptance of the fact that in spite of my weakness and shortfalls God loves me and will forgive me is something I continually struggle with. I must learn to accept that I am who I am.
    We are blessed by your ministry.

  2. Thank you for reading, and for commenting. I have an early start for Oxford on Wednesday and I’m not sure what will happen for the rest of the week. However, if you use the search bar, you will find many previous years’ entries for the different days of Holy week and Easter.

  3. With two family funerals in our parish church in two days, it brings sharply into focus how fragile life is and how we need to make the most of whatever time is allotted by the Almighty to each of us.

    That reading from Isaiah is a strong hint on how exhausted we can be, when things don’t go the way we would like them to do, and also the futility of worrying about the consequences of failure.

    I have had many such failures, broken relationships, disappointment and loss, but somehow, that trust in God can bring unexpected solutions. When I was judged unsuitable for Ordination, he gave me some breathing space, and that pointed me in a new direction, which has been wonderful, I am now privileged to hold a Bishops License for Lay Ministry and at my age, that was an achievement after three years of academic study, paired with practical experience. And now engaged in a Chaplaincy placement, I see a vague aspiration taking shape as I move on. I have no idea where it is all going, but I’m along for the ride and loving it.

    Thanks be to God.

  4. From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, everything that happened to our Lord Jesus was predestined by our Father.
    May God bless and care for you this week as you undertake further treatment. May He bring you relief from the pain, nausea and discomfort. Peace and love be with you xx.

  5. As I was reading your blog a prayer sprang to my mind
    Lord Jesus , you are my light in the darkness
    You are my warmth in the cold
    You are my happiness in sorrow.
    I asked for strength that I might achieve;
    I was made weak that I might learn to humbly obey.
    I asked for health that I might do greater things;
    I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
    I asked for riches that I might be happy;
    I was given poverty that I might be wise.
    I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
    I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
    I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
    I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
    I got nothing I asked for, but everything I had hoped for.
    Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered.
    I am, amongst all, most richly blessed.

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