There is a story of a young priest
who was asked to lead a retreat for a group of nuns.
He had never led a retreat before and was a bit daunted by thought of it.
His instinct was to say that he wasn’t sure if it was his thing;
but he was an ambitious young priest
and he thought this would look good on his CV,
so he ignored his instinct and said “yes”.
Half way through the retreat he realised he should have said “No”.
It wasn’t going very well. His talks didn’t flow.
And the nuns were obviously struggling to stay awake.
He took the mother superior to one side and said: “This isn’t going well is it?”
“Well”, she said, “Let’s just say you’re not the most natural retreat conductor”.
“I knew it” he said. “It’s a complete disaster.”
“Oh, no” said the Mother Superior, “I wouldn’t say that.”
“No?, said the young priest, feeling a little more hopeful.
“No”, said the Mother Superior. “You see, nuns are like cockroaches,
they can get sustenance from the most unlikely sources.”
These next few days are the most unlikely sources by which to find sustenance.
Betrayal; desertion; cruelty; injustice; torture; death…..
and yet these few days are the very sustenance of our Christian lives.
Love turns the world on its head.
Love triumphs in the darkest of places, at the darkest of times.
Through love God transforms a seemingly hopeless situation
into a means of grace.
Through love, God takes the things that we fear and dread
and makes them the very things through which heaven and earth are united.
All the things that Jesus went through in the Garden of Gethsemane; at his trial;
on his journey to the cross; and at his moment of death were meant to break him.
They were meant to break his impact on the world;
demean his message and influence;
and make his life and vocation a complete waste of time.
Through these events the world was meant to forget he ever existed.
And yet, through his love, they are the very foundations of faith
and the means by which God’s holy presence touches our world and our lives.
Yes, like the nuns in the story
we can find sustenance from the most unlikely sources;
because love will always triumph
and make all our darkest moments a means of grace.