I am reading Saint Thomas More’s final work, The Sadness of Christ, a beautiful meditation on the final hours of Christ’s life. It was written in the Tower of London, while More was preparing for his martyrdom. In this short book, he dedicates a good deal of time to Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. More contrasts the fatigue of Peter, James and John to the frenetic Judas Iscariot who, far from indulging in rest, was busy carrying out his treacherous scheme against the Lord.
More’s caution to the bishops of his day echoes through the centuries. It’s an astonishing indictment coming from a man who was witnessing the earliest stages of the dismantling of Christendom in his own land.
Why do not bishops contemplate in this scene their own somnolence? Since they have succeeded in the place of the apostles, would that they would reproduce their virtues just as eagerly as they embrace their authority and as faithfully as they display their sloth and sleepiness! For very many are sleepy and apathetic in sowing virtues among the people and maintaining the truth, while the enemies of Christ, in order to sow vices and uproot the faith (that is, insofar as they can, to seize Christ and cruelly crucify Him once again), are wide awake–so much wiser (as Christ says) are the sons of darkness in their generation than the sons of light.