Holy Monday Devotion: April 3, 2023
To follow the reading of St. Matthew's Passion Narrative
It is not good for a man to be alone.
That’s why, in the beginning, God does not leave Adam alone in the garden, but creates the woman from his side. To be a companion and a helper. A bride united to her husband in perfect communion.
Yet in the hour of temptation, the man fails. Now his communion is with his bride is broken. Now their companionship is marred by shame and suspicion. Now their unity is lost as they run for cover.
Again, the man is alone. And this is not good. It is not good for a man to be alone.
Jesus understands this. He understands the ugly curse of loneliness. That’s why he falls on his face with great sorrow to pray, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me…” Because here in this garden, Jesus is already beginning to taste the bitter fruit that Adam took from the tree. Soon Jesus will be alone. Here in this garden, the tempter will strike and the sheep will scatter. Here in this garden, the disciple he shared his bread with will betray him and all the ones who boasted of their loyalty will abandon him. Here in this garden, Jesus is going to begin his lonely descent into the abyss—where he will face the true horror of what it means to be forsaken by everyone—including by God his Father. The curse of loneliness will torment and kill him. It will not be a good death. It is never good for a man to be alone.
And yet, even as we meditate on the lonely suffering of Jesus, we would do well to also meditate upon his promise. Remember what he says to his disciples as they make their way to from the upper room to the garden “You will all fall away because of me this night…But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Here, even as he is staring into the abyss, Jesus speaks a word of comfort to his disciples. Before the hour of temptation comes. Before they abandon him and scatter. He reassures them that he will not do them as they have done to him. He will not leave these men alone. On the third day he will rise. He will go before them to Galilee. He will meet them in the place where they first heard the call to come and follow. He will gather the sheep that were scattered. He will restore the fellowship that was lost. He will call them back in to the communion that was broken.
It is not good for a man to be alone. That’s why Jesus came. That’s why he allowed himself to be betrayed and abandoned in a garden. That’s why he allowed himself to be hung from a lonely tree. So that he could swallow up the curse of loneliness by his resurrection and create a communion of saints to be his Church—one Church united to him as a bride was always intended to be united with her husband.
The Church is reminded of this whenever we come to the Lord’s Table. Whenever we come here as the Lord has instructed us—to the place where the Lord has gone before us. To the place where he himself meets us so that he might restore the fellowship that once was lost. So that he might call us back into the communion that once was broken. So that he might feed us with the wounds that he suffered alone in order to proclaim to us that we no longer are. We are no longer alone. Jesus has seen to that.