Grace: Ask for the grace of being able to tell God, “not my will but yours be done.”
Text for Prayer: Luke 22:39-46
Reflection: The Garden of Gethsemane is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Its name comes from the Hebrew word for ‘oil press’. It was in that garden that the events of Good Friday suddenly overtook Jesus. As Pope John XIII said in one of his homilies about the meaning of the cross, the most horrible ‘pressing upon’ experience Jesus had was bearing the heavy weight of all human sin.
Through his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane the eve of his passion, Jesus expressed three aspects of response to the events that would follow. First, he conveyed his sadness and agony. He expressed with the Psalmist, “My soul is very sorrowful” (Ps 43). He felt a deep loneliness. After he had invited three of the apostles to stay with him, watch and pray, they fell asleep and he began to feel the burden of his loneliness. His expression of sorrow and loneliness is echoed on the cross as Jesus prays, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Ps 22; Mk 15:34).
Second, Jesus offered himself, as he stated during the Last Supper, as a victim for the expiation of our sin. He is both the priest and victim. He is the Paschal lamb and the unblemished victim for our redemption.
Third, Jesus expressed his total adherence to the will of God. He conveyed complete entrustment and obedience to God. Although he was afraid of the suffering, the torture and bloody death, he offered himself in a free and voluntary act of obedience to the Father’s salvific will to accomplish the work of redemption. He ended his prayer saying, Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mk 14:36).
As we contemplate the Paschal mystery, this Holy Week, we are invited to reflect on the central events of our redemption and to ponder their meaning in our lives. We contemplate the Passion and Death of our Lord and reflect on the meaning of suffering, loneliness, sin and other burdens in our lives. We do so always having in mind that both the Cross and Resurrection are intrinsic to our Christian vocation. As we enter that reflection, we are called into a deeper relationship with God. This relationship is experienced through prayer –growing in heartfelt intimacy with the Lord – and in our love and service of our sisters and brothers.
Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane teaches us to bring our reservations, fears, sadness and loneliness to the Lord. In our relationship with Jesus, our sorrows and suffering acquire new meaning, and our joys and consolations shine brighter in the light of Jesus’ love for us. We learn to make of our lives gifts to God and to those who live around us. Last but not least, we learn to surrender ourselves to the Lord completely – learn to say “not my will, but yours be done.” And we learn to do it joyfully.
As we imitate Jesus, specially in his struggle in Gethsamane, we learn to surrender all that we are and we have to embrace God’s will and give ourselves to the building of God’s Kingdom.
Questions: When have I felt ‘pressed upon’ by the weight of my fears, loneliness, reservation and sin? How has the Lord called me to surrender it all? How do I feel about telling God, “not my will, but yours be done”?