Leading fearful disciples, who are also slow to understand, Jesus heads towards Jerusalem to face with courage his painful fate.
Courage does not mean not agonizing at the specter of suffering and death. Jesus is in such agony that his sweat becomes “like drops of blood falling the ground.” He thus indicates also that he does not want suffering or death either for himself or for others.
To take courage is to pray fervently in our anguish, that the Father’s will be done, while we ask at the same time that he takes away from us the bitter cup. Even the fallen muster enough courage and strength when he strengthens, after turning back from his fear and weakness, his brothers and sisters. The same can be said of Joseph Arimathea and the women behind him who take upon themselves the responsibility to prepare spices and perfumed oils. It does not matter now that like the rest they stood at a distance during the crucifixion.
They have courage, those who, despite their fear of the unknown, go out of their comfort zone anyway to make their own Jesus’ simple lifestyle. Courageous as well are the disciples who, knowing quite well that they are not greater than their Teacher, do not turn turn back in the face of inevitable torture perpetrated by those who pluck other people’s beards.
These disciples now understand that “there is nothing good that does not meet with opposition,” to quote St. Vincent de Paul (SV.FR IV:12). They thus recognize that it is not God who makes passion and death inevitable, but rather human beings’ pride and insatiable thirst for power, wealth, people’s adulation.
Hence, in contrast to the wicked, Jesus’ true followers strive to prove themselves before God through their courage and patient endurance in tribulations, through their thirst for justice. They go about doing good, announcing the Good News to the poor, curing every disease and illness, combating, to the best of their ability, suffering and death, constantly, at every turn, in towns and villages, in the outskirts of big cities.
And that is how they live with courage the Paschal Mystery that the Sacred Banquet recalls. Subjected to death, even to death and death on the cross, made necessary by human greed, they surely and inevitably receive at the same Banquet a pledge of future glory.
Passion of Christ, strengthen us.