Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane.  It’s the night of His betrayal and arrest.  Tomorrow He will be crucified.  He says to some of His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Mt 26:38).  He moves away to pray, and upon returning, He finds the disciples asleep.  He says to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?’” (Mt. 26:40b).

Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?
In the Gethsemanes of life, God’s presence and care is manifested in the presence and care of others – in the witness of others, in the watching of others.

I think of the Gospel story of Jesus staying in the house so packed with visitors that there is no room at all – even near the door.  Meanwhile, four men arrive carrying a mat with a paralysed man.  And they can’t reach Jesus because of the crowd.  But these men are undeterred.  And they cut a hole through the roof above Jesus’ head and lower the man down on his stretcher!

A witness to this man’s condition.  Willing to tear down the structures that would keep this man from meeting Jesus and getting the help he needed.  Jesus notices their faith in action, and attends to the man in need.

Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 
Yes – we’ll watch with you, and we’ll bring you to the place of help – even if we need to tear off the roof to do it.

Paul, writing to the Corinthians says, “Dear brothers and sisters… Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Cor. 13:11).  Live in harmony and peace.  Be in each other’s lives.  Watch with each other.  Comfort each other.  Build each other up.  Live outwardly.  Live community-mindedly.  Share the stories of your lives, together, with each other, and for each other.  And then the God of love and peace will be with you.

Live in peace, and the God of peace will be with you.  “Defend the cause of the poor and needy – is that not what it means to know me?” declares the Lord (Jer. 22:16)

But how can I defend the cause of the poor and needy if I’m turning a blind eye to the news of their suffering?
And how can I live in harmony and peace when bomb after bomb after bomb after bomb… after bomb is dropped?

Jesus wept.

Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 
Yes – I’ll watch with you, and I’ll bring these people to your attention with my tears and with my prayers – even if I need to tear off the roof to do it.  Whatever it costs me.  I won’t be silent.  Silence now is not justice.  Silence now is not solidarity.  Silence now is not compassion.  I am a witness.  Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Not 50 miles from Jesus’ own Gethsemane, there are thousands upon thousands of people living through their own Gethsemanes and Calvaries.

I believe that, right now, Jesus is asking us the question, Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?   How do we answer?  Do we go back to sleep?  Do we mumble excuses?  Do we change the channel?

St Teresa of Avila said these words, “Christ has no body now but yours.  No hands, no feet on earth but yours.  Yours are the eyes through which He looks compassion on this world.  Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good.  Yours are the hands through which He blesses all the world.  Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are His body.  Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

I give to You me eyes to be a witness
I give to You my mouth to speak out for justice
I give to You my hands – put me to work for justice and peace
I give to You my feet – lead me in the paths of peacemaking and comfort
In Jesus’ name.