In yesterday’s Gospel reading, Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin plot to bring about the death of Jesus. The results of their planning will be on full display today in the Gospel account of Luke 22:14-23:46.
The scene from the Passion account that I would like to reflect upon is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Lk 22:39-46). 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 you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” As Jesus accepted the cup he would take from his Father, He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. Jesus is willing to follow the will of his Father even unto death and willingly giving his life.
Jesus has done all that the Father asked of him, he has preached, taught, healed, exorcised demons, and each time his Father requested something of him, Jesus said yes, and now finds himself on death’s door. He sensed Judas and the Temple guards drawing close and knew he would be turned over to those who have rejected the will of his Father. Jesus would say yes yet again, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”
With these words of surrender, Jesus echoed the verse from Psalms 42 and 43: “Hope in God, I will praise him still, my savior and my God.” Even faced with his death, Jesus accepted the will of his Father, his Abba. He trusted and hoped that there would be a greater good from the sacrifice of giving his life. Jesus would surrender all and what is on full display for us in the garden is the mystery of his hypostatic union: Jesus is one divine person, the Son of God, subsisting in two natures and two wills, the human and divine.
The God man, Jesus, arose from his intense time of prayer with his Father, 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. Jesus commands us to watch and pray as well this Holy Week. How many times have we too been in a situation of facing something that is too heavy to bear, and our response is to sleep, sometimes literally, because we are overwhelmed and it is too much to bear. Jesus understands.
We, like the disciples fall short, for our flesh is weak. Yet, Jesus continues to have faith in us that we will actualize who his Father is calling us to be, just as he did with his apostles despite their failures and they went on to fulfill their appointed role in God’s plan. No matter our shortcomings, our weaknesses, whatever trial or tribulation looms before us, we are not alone. Let us now, as did the apostles, rise with Jesus and move forward, placing our hope and trust in God, as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Let us follow the lead of Jesus, the Son, this Holy Week, and surrender our will to the Father so as to experience the Love of the Holy Spirit. No matter what we experience today or what may come tomorrow, we are accompanied and supported. Let us hope in God, let us praise him still, our savior and our God.