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This reflection was originally presented during the Holy Week prayer service

March 31, 2021

What do you want from me?

What do you want from me?  Have you ever said those words?  Think about it.  Like when you are frustrated, maybe with your parents and you are exhausted  because you really are trying your best and you feel they want more and you feel that they are not satisfied?  And you say, “What do you want from me?”  Or maybe the coach who won’t back down until you get it exactly right even after you’ve tried and tried, you want to give up. “What do you want from me?” Or the teacher who keeps pushing you to revise and revise and you just want to say, “This is my final draft. What do you want from me?”

And when you think about it, when you ask the question, you don’t really want to know the answer. You just say it  out of frustration and maybe anger or maybe even arrogance. “What do you want from me?”

With tomorrow being Holy Thursday, I think of Mark’s Gospel story when Jesus asks Peter, James, and John to stay awake while he prays in the garden of Gethsemane. When Jesus returns to them, he finds them asleep. This happens three times. Jesus knew the suffering that awaited him, and he just needed his best friends to be present and support him. Jesus calls them out and is frustrated with them. He says “Enough!”  In the Gospel of Mark, the disciples have no answer for Jesus. But I wonder how our boy Peter felt when Jesus confronted him. Did he want to say “Jesus, What do you want from me?” And like us, if Peter really did say something like that, did he really want to know the answer from God?

This Lenten season, I wonder also about John…well, Johnny. Johnny Lawrence from Cobra Kai.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s the movie Karate Kid, but 30 years later.  I love that show.  I totally have binge watched it. I don’t know why I like it so much. Maybe it gives me a sense of nostalgia reminding me of when I was a kid; maybe I really like the character of Johnny Lawrence and I am rooting for him. Or maybe it’s just cool to watch the same characters played by the same actors, but now I get to watch it with my own kids.

They love it, so of course I had to watch the 1984 movie Karate Kid with them.  One scene struck me: when the teacher, Mr. Miyagi is showing his student, Daniel, how to prune a bonsai tree, and Daniel is nervous because he doesn’t want to damage the tree. Mr. Miyagi hands him the small scissors and says: close eyes. Trust. Concentrate. Think only “tree.” And that was the phrase that stayed with me. Close eyes. Trust. Concentrate. Think only tree. When you close your eyes and concentrate, what really is on your mind these days? What are you thinking about? Is it “Trust. Concentrate. Think only Prep?” Think only lacrosse, or your sport? Think only college choice? Think only spring break? Family? Summer job? It’s probably some or all of the above. During these days leading up to Easter, a time of hope and rejoicing and faith and rebirth—especially in 2021—I’m challenging you to find some time, and clear your mind, truly. Close eyes. Trust. Concentrate. Think only God.

Think only God and just listen. Just listen. And if you truly want to say something to God, say “What do you want from me?” And truly mean it, and truly desire the answer and listen.

Gentlemen, have a great Easter. I love you. Let’s go Prep!

Sub Umbra Petri,

Michael A. Gomez, Ed.D., ’91

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