The Agony in the Garden

From the Supper Room in Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples went out into the night to a quiet grove of olive trees called Gethsemani on the western slope of Mount Olivet. Taking Peter, James and John, witnesses of his transfiguration in glory, he withdrew deeper into the garden. They would witness now his fear and hear his anxious prayer.

Jesus praying in Gethsemani

Going on alone, a stone's throw away, Jesus fell upon the ground and began to pray a doleful prayer:

Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; remove this cup from me. Yet not my will but yours be done. (Mark 14,36)

So troubled and distressed had he become by what he saw before him — a brutal death — that “his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22,43) Returning three times to seek his disciples' support, he found them asleep.

On that dark night, when evil had its way, Jesus found support in only One. “Abba, Father.” A child's cry came from his heart. Cold fear, betrayal, the desertion of friends, the false judgments of others, the whips, the nails, the hard wood could not stop it. His childlike faith in God would not be broken, even through the hours of pain and tears.

When words no longer could be said, nor thoughts no longer formed, that confident prayer uttered in the garden would remain in Jesus' heart. “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you.”

His prayer did not go unanswered. Luke's account of the agony of Jesus says: “An angel came from heaven to strengthen him.”

What can we learn from all of this? That Jesus will watch with us in the dark gardens of our life? That he will teach us this same childlike prayer? That he will send his angel, too, to strengthen us?

Meditation by Fr Victor Hoagland, C.P. Photograph by Sr Mary Ann Strain, C.P. - Gethsemane




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