Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Jesus in Gethsemane

1. After the last supper, when Judas had disappeared in order to carry out his treacherous plan, Jesus walked with His other eleven Apostles among the olive trees of Gethsemane. He took aside three of the most faithful, and then went away a few paces from them and prostrated Himself on the ground in fervent prayer. Being God, Jesus had no need of prayer, but He wished to give us an example of how we ought to behave in moments of trial and danger. Three times He rose and went over to the Apostles, who were tired and had fallen asleep. He reproached them gently and exhorted them to pray. Watch and pray, that
you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Mk. 14:38) We often have a similar experience. Temptation assails us from within and from without, and we remain unmoved and inactive. But how can we escape from danger without the help of God? The divine help comes to us from grace, which must be sought by prayer. The electric current ceases if the switch cuts off its contact with the source from which it is derived. In the same way the divine grace of which we are in constant need is cut off if we do not remain united by prayer to God, the source of the spiritual life. Let us learn from our divine model Jesus how to watch and pray always, especially in times of temptation and of peril.

2. What was the prayer of Jesus in the moment of anguish when He saw Himself abandoned or betrayed by everyone on this earth and foresaw the terrible sufferings of His passion and death which, despite His infinite love, would prove to be in vain for so many men? Face downwards upon the earth, He implored His Heavenly Father to take away, if possible, the bitter chalice. But He added immediately: Yet not my will but thine be done. (Lk. 22:42) We should pray like Jesus, especially when we are suffering in body and tormented in mind. We should prostrate ourselves before God with an act of deep humility and of perfect confidence in His infinite goodness. We should pray first of all that His name may be glorified throughout the world as it is in Heaven. We should pray that His Kingdom may be established and may triumph over evil, and that our own souls may be saved along with those of our brothers in Christ. Then we can ask for the favours which we need in the present life and for freedom from physical and moral suffering. We can ask for all these things, certainly, but we should add with Jesus: Yet not my will but thine be done. In other words, we should be ready to offer up our sufferings as a proof of our love for Him.

3. In His sadness and loneliness Jesus is comforted by an angel. It is true that, being God, He was in no need of being consoled by angels. Moreover, He had willingly allowed Himself to be offered as a victim of expiation for our sins. He was offered because it was his own will.(Is. 53:7) But He wished to be an example to us in this I matter also. If we trustingly abandon ourselves to God's will in moments of temptation and of sorrow we shall receive comfort from our angel, too. How many times have we experienced this mysterious consolation in our souls? When we have bowed our heads in suffering and have offered ourselves as pure victims to God, we have felt an inner light and peace which only divine grace can give.