READ: John 18:1-11; 37-38
“[As the guards were arresting Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,] Simon Peter, who carried a sword, drew it and struck the right ear of a servant of the High Priest. …Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back in its scabbard; am I not to drink from the cup that the Father has given me?” … [Later,] the governor, Pontius Pilate, said to Jesus, “So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘These words are yours, Governor, not mine. I came into this world to bear witness to the Truth. All who are on the side of Truth listen to My voice.’ To this Pilate retorted, ‘Truth? What is Truth?'” – John 18:10-11, 37-38
Life is a maddening mix of matters that MUST be done, matters that SHOULD be done, and matters that COULD be done. Life is a maddening mix of fate and free will, of circumstance and choice. And Wisdom is about the discernment we make amongst them all.
In Jesus’ prayer time in the Garden, I believe He was contemplating for a good while on the Destiny that was now before Him. In one breath, Jesus was contemplating, “Father, take this cup that has been placed before Me, take it away.” In the next breath, Jesus was contemplating, “This cup is the very reason why I came into this world … to accomplish this task, to give my life in order to save the lives of others. Father, give me the courage and the strength of will to drink from it.” And between these two ebbing and flowing prayers there lingered long moments of Holy Silence, the contemplative Quiet that causes one to listen … beyond the words, beyond the thoughts, to hear the whispers that echo in the soul of God. And in the end … Jesus says to Peter ...”No swords! I will choose to drink this cup of my destiny.”
Here at Greyfriars’ Abbey, we have numbered among us, souls who in one way or another drink from the cups that have been placed before them. In those cups, those chalices of devotion, one finds wine of diverse vintages. Some of the cups hold the wine of matters that MUST be done; some of the cups, the wine of matters that SHOULD be done; some of the cups, matters that COULD be done.
We have a Brother among us who was born blind … yet his blindness has gifted him with a wondrous capacity to sense the world in ways that seem miraculously enhanced, and his acceptance of his destiny has brought us all profound blessing.
We have a Brother among us who cares first hand for the needs of the poor of the streets, often sleeping with them, daily feeding them, sometimes protecting them, and always loving them as his family. And the cup from which he drinks, inspires us all to greater measures of compassion.
We have a Brother among us who creates works of art, extraordinary paintings that sell for thousands of dollars, with every penny going to provide for orphans in Haiti. And the cup from which he has chosen to drink models for us all the miracles that can be done by those who try.
In truth, I daresay, each Brother here at Greyfriars’ Abbey has – at some point in their lives – spent those hours of Holy Quiet, considering long and slow the “Cup” that had been placed before them. Would they take the cup … or would they let it pass them by? That is the question … that I find is always asked … of those called by God, … souls like me and souls like you.
Brother Anthony of the Cross