Meditations and Prayers for Lent and Easter

The Agony in the Garden

by Victor Hoagland, C.P.
Mt 26: 36-46; Lk 22: 40-46; Mk 14: 32-42

GethsemaneFrom the supper room in Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples went out into the night to the 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.

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.” (Mk 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.

In 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 trust 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 does a disciple learn from all of this? That he will watch with us in the dark gardens of our life? That he will teach us this same childlike prayer? That he will send an angel, too, to strengthen us?

Lord, have mercy.
Jesus, Eternal Son of God
Jesus, born into the human family
Jesus, rejected by the world you came to save
Jesus, bargained for and sold for money
Jesus, foreseeing your torments and sweating blood,
Jesus, betrayed by a false friend,
Jesus, deserted by those you loved,
Jesus, slapped in the face and spit upon in a court of justice,
Jesus, accused by liars,
Jesus, disowned by Peter,
Jesus, insulted by Herod,
Jesus, condemned to death by Pilate
Jesus, beaten with whips,
Jesus, crowned with thorns,
Jesus, rejected for the murderer, Barabbas,
Jesus, burdened with a cross,
Jesus, stripped of your clothing,
Jesus, nailed to a cross,
Jesus, taunted in your pain,
Jesus, abandoned,
Jesus, shedding the last drop of your blood,
Jesus, dying for us,
Jesus, laid in a tomb,
Jesus, rising in glory,
Jesus, ascending into heaven,
Jesus, sending down the Holy Spirit,
Jesus, our ransom,
Jesus, our brother,
Jesus, our God,

Detail from painting by Duccio di Buoninsegna, about 1308; Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena

May the Passion of Jesus Christ Be Always in Our Hearts

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