Meditations on the Passion (1) — Msgr Goodier : The Leave-Taking

March 31, 2020
Source: Priory Wanganui

And when Jesus had said these things, and they had sung a hymn, He went forth with His disciples, according to His custom, over the brook Cedron to the Mount of Olives, where there was a garden. Then Jesus saith to them, ‘You will all be scandalized in Me this night. For it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed.” But after I shall be risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.’1

  • 1. Matt. 27:30-32; Mk 14:26-28; Lk 22:39; Jn 28:1.

Our Lord knew that this was to be the last gathering. At the beginning of the Last Supper He had said: “With desire I have desired (i.e., I have desired with great longing) to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer.” All through that Supper how keen was His affection for His own; how much He felt for them; how all His words and actions had been directed with a view to giving them comfort and courage! He had bid farewell to His Mother; of that scene, as of all other similar scenes, Scripture tells us not a word, as though the Evangelists felt it to be too sacred for description. But it is not too sacred for meditation, and we may look on and say and think what we will. He bade farewell to Judas in unmistakable terms; but with how much affection it had been preceded, how much affection was shown even at the parting itself! And He bade farewell to all the rest; we can take them one by one, with their different characters and different shortcomings, and know that He had a special love for each.

Then He led them out for the last walk together in the evening twilight. They were full of courage, for had they not been fed with His own Body and His own Blood? Full of hope, for had He not told them that He had overcome the world ? Full of thankfulness, for had He not prayed specially for them and associated them with Himself before His Father? “Heavenly Father” He had said, “I pray that where I am, these may also be.” But, lastly, full of confidence in themselves; they had not yet learned that “Without Me you can do nothing.” This Our Lord knew, though they did not; and it is the one piercing agony of the leavetaking. He must tell them. In spite of all their joy of heart, and protestations, He says to them: “You will all be scandalized in Me this night: For it is written, ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed.’”

 There is something very tender in the manner of this solemn warning. He scarcely seems to blame them; He speaks as if it were a sad necessity, and quotes a prophecy to confirm it. But He does not quote all the prophecy; He quotes only that which refers to them; what refers to Himself He keeps in His own mind. For what said the Prophet? These are his words: “And they shall say to Him: ‘What are these wounds in the midst of Thy hands?’ And He shall say: ‘With these I was wounded in the house of them that loved Me. Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, and against the man that cleaveth to Me,’ saith the Lord of hosts: ‘strike the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered, and I will turn My hand to the little ones.’” But, after that the Prophet promises a refining of the people; and Our Lord will do no less. He says nothing of punishment; He will not retaliate; He looks beyond to the reconciliation: “But after I shall be risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.”

Summary.

  1. Our Lord held this formal leave-taking, with all together, and with each individually, the best and the worst.
  2. They were full of consolations, but also of self-confidence, which needed to be checked.
  3. Yet this warning was one of sympathy, and even as He gave it, He still looked to the reunion.