And so we begin retelling the story of Jesus giving us the Meal of life. But there was so much he did on this night, so many things which tell us the truth about God. Washing the disciples’ feet. Giving the Meal. And making the momentous decision in the garden to go through with this plan. This was a night when God’s will was revealed, and God’s love in all its depth. Jesus, in his actions on these great Three Days, opened the heart of God for us, and revealed God’s will.
The question of will he faced tonight was whether Jesus could fully live in the love he had for us, or whether he would take up power against us. In the mystery of God’s wisdom, God at some point realized that we couldn’t be won back by main force, by violence, by power. So God chose to enter our lives, live with us, and show us the way back to God’s love. Literally, to live love among us and so transform us.
But the risk was tremendous – if we rejected that way, only valuing power and force, we might kill the one who came to love us home. Jesus, who, as we hear in Matthew’s account of the Garden of Gethsemane, had heavenly armies of 72,000 ready to fight for him, had to decide to stay his hand. To commit to the way of love to the end, even if it meant death.
And that is precisely what it meant.
But God’s wisdom is so much deeper than anything we can imagine – it also meant, as we will find out as we come to the end of the Three Days, that death and power and violence and hatred were defeated forever. Because of Jesus we have an unmistakeable sign of God’s will and God’s presence: self-giving, sacrificial, transforming love.
And it would have been so much easier for us if God had chosen the old way of power and law: If Jesus had only come with a list of rules – we could have found our loopholes and not had to change. But Jesus came and asked us to love as he loves – without limits, without stinting, without measure, without counting cost.
If Jesus had only come and told us to rule the world, to force our will on others, to control, to dominate – that we could do. But he came and asked us to let go of the need to win, to open our fists and turn our hands so that they embrace instead of exclude.
I’m often not sure which is harder for me – to live in Jesus’ love in my personal life, at home, at work, in the world – or to find ways in the institution of the Church for it to live in Jesus’ love in its teachings, its decisions, its actions.
But I am certain that there is no more difficult prayer we pray – even if we don’t realize it and say it blithely – than “your will be done.”