On Wednesday, March 2, the Franciscans’ second Lenten pilgrimage took place, following Christ’s footsteps. After Dominus Flevit, it was Gethsemane’s turn to welcome the prayers of the local faithful and pilgrims from around the world.
On this peaceful afternoon on the Mount of Olives, the congregation slowly began to arrive at the Franciscan sanctuary and to find their place inside the splendid basilica. The mass was about to begin. It was presided over by Br. Stéphane Milovich, OFM.
Reading the Gospel passage from Matthew 26 (“My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!), Br. Frédéric Manns, OFM, in his homily deepened his reflection on the famous passage. He quoted the Encyclical Letter by John Paul II, Dives in misericordia, which deals with the messianic mission and mercy.
“The one who went about doing good and healing,” “curing every sickness and disease now Himself seems to merit the greatest mercy and to appeal for mercy, when He is arrested, abused, condemned, scourged, crowned with thorns, when He is nailed to the cross and dies amidst agonizing torments.It is then that He particularly deserves mercy from the people to whom He has done good, and He does not receive it” (Dives in V,7, 71-73).
“Christ is the suffering servant. He came to serve, not to be served. His suffering saves the world. Suffering is not something that is absurd; it can contribute to the salvation of the world,” continued Fr. Frederic, before quoting Blaise Pascal. “Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world. We must not sleep until that time has come. Jesus begged men [not to sleep] and he was not spared. Console yourself, [for] you would not seek me if you had not found me. I thought of you in my agony, I shed this drop of blood for you.”
Jesus’ agony is a present reality for Christians in the Middle East,”explained the preacher. For them, it is also“a prayer vigil on the night of the world. But this humiliation will be followed by the resurrection.”