Today, we celebrate the Passion of Jesus. The scene from the Passion account that I would like to reflect upon is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:36-46). The disciples follow Jesus to the Mount of Olives and once arriving, Jesus withdraws about a stone’s throw from them, and kneeling, he prayed, saying, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will but as you will.” Jesus would pray this prayer again after finding his disciples asleep.
He probably reviewed his life, his simple beginnings with Mary and Joseph, his simple vocation as a carpenter, and the past three years of his ministry. Jesus had done all that the Father had asked of him, he preached, taught, healed, exorcised demons, built relationships, and each time his Father requested something of him, Jesus said yes. Now as he pondered one more request, he could probably sense Judas and the Temple guards drawing close. He would be turned over to those who had rejected the will of his Father.
Jesus would say yes again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!”
Jesus could have refused, but he was sent by his Father to become one with us in our humanity so that we could become one with him in his divinity, and that meant all that he assumed, all that he took upon himself in being fully human, he could redeem.
This meant Jesus would also take upon himself our sins, although he himself never sinned. Jesus was willing to follow the will of his Father all the way into utter godforsakenness, into death.
With these words of surrender Jesus echoed a verse from Psalms 42 and 43: “Hope in God, I will praise him still, my savior and my God.” Even faced with his death, he trusted that there would be a greater good from the sacrifice of giving his life. Jesus would surrender all.
The God-man, Jesus, arose, and as he approached his disciples he found them sleeping from grief. Jesus was ready to face the cross even if his apostles were not. As with the Apostles, Jesus commands us to watch and pray this Holy Week. How many times have we also been in a situation of facing something that is too heavy to bear? We, like the disciples, fall short, for our flesh is weak. Yet, Jesus has faith in us that we will actualize who his Father calls us to be, as he still had faith in his apostles who persisted despite their failures and fulfilled their role in God’s plan.
No matter what looms before us, let us place our trust in God, as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane.
No matter what personal trials or tribulations or even the effects of the coronavirus that are preventing us from being together in communal worship, we choose to, like Jesus did, to put others before ourselves. That is why we quarantine ourselves in an act of solidarity and love for one another.
No matter what challenges we face, come what may, we are not alone. Let us not be afraid, but be brave. Let us hope in God, let us praise him still, our savior and our God.
Photo: Sanctuary of St Anthony Croatian Church in Chinatown, Los Angeles, CA