The words are from the amazing Archbp. Fulton Sheen. The amazing statuary can be found at the shrine of the Holy Stairs in Rome. The stairs are crowded. They are painful and difficult to ascend on the knees, and there are many of them. These are the stairs which God Himself ascended in ignominy so that He might later ascend into glory.
From Evil Has Its Hour…
Pulling down upon Himself the burden of the world’s sin, as if He Himself has been guilty of sin; thrusting into His hand every open deed of evil and every secret deed of shame, as if He Himself has committed them, He breaks out into a bloody sweat, as the crimson drops like so many words write on the pages of earth the story of its greatest Love and its fondest Hope.
When He had prayed, He came back to His chosen three, and found them wrapped both in their cloaks and in sleep. In return for His Love Our Lord had asked but one small thing that they fall not asleep. He bade them stay awake like sentries of earth and bade them pray like sentries of heaven. Everything slept about them. The city with its white-washed walls sprawling over the hills, was asleep; in all the houses of all the cities of the world, men were sleeping. Perhaps the only ones awake were a thief in ambush in the dark, or a fond mother at the bedside of her sick child, or a sophomoric youth over a cup of wine in a dimly lighted tavern, asking his fellows: “Does God exist?”
But why watch and pray? Because in times of crisis, evil can be more awake than goodness. Evil never sleeps. Across this hill comes the evil man. Judas is his name. He leads a band of soldiers, Sadducees, and Pharisees, bearing lanterns and torches and weapons. Judas has already given to them a sign saying: “Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he; lay hold on him and lead him away carefully” (Mark 14:44). Then throwing his arms about the neck of Jesus, he blistered His lips with a kiss. That kiss was at once the first and most horrible sullying of the lips which had pronounced the most heavenly words ever heard on this mad earth of ours. The betrayal of holy things must always be prefaced by a mark of affection. The kiss was the first use of the Trojan Horse in the history of Christianity! Oh, how religion must guard against those wicked influences which say they are friends of religion.
This was no surprise to the Master. The very day He announced the Eucharist, He made known that Judas would betray Him. A few hours ago, before He gave the Eucharist, He told Judas himself he would betray Him. It was thus around His most solemn promise and His most noble gift that the betrayal centered. As St. John put it: “Jesus therefore knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth and said to them: Whom seek ye? They answered him: Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith to them: I am he” (John 18:4-5). When He said this the whole cohort of them fell backwards to the ground. Some burst of majesty halted them, some flaming glory which surpasses our puny minds. It was another way of revealing that no man could take His life away, but that He could lay it down Himself.
“And Jesus said to the chief priests, and magistrates of the temple and the ancients, that were come unto him: Are ye come out, as it were against a thief, with swords and clubs? When I was daily with you in the temple, you did not stretch forth your hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:52-53).
In clear unmistakable language, Our Divine Lord here tells us that God permits the evil begotten of the rebellious hearts of men to have its brief holiday even at the expense of God Himself. The ignorant think that a war creates difficulties for belief in God. And here the God-man says that the evil seed man has planted will bear fruit in our evil hour! It is not God’s goodness we should doubt. It is our own! Evil did not come from God. It came from our sin, our pride, our egotism. Therefore it will have its hour! Are we not living at such a moment now in the world’s history? Do not the times in which we live belong to Satan and the power of Darkness, where-in Divine Law is ignored, sanctuaries polluted, family life trampled under the feet of false freedom, and children raised as if there were no Cross, no Savior, and no Divine Love? But if evil has its hour, how meet it? Will the sword be enough?
See Also: St. John Lateran