Saturday, 10 March 2018

The Agony in the Garden (1)


The Agony in the Garden


After the Last Supper, Our Lord went away with Peter, James and John to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. He had just celebrated the first Mass, when Our Lord had miraculously changed the bread into His Body, and the chalice of wine into His Blood. This miracle of the Mass is celebrated every time the Priest offers the sacrifice of God to God.

The time line was now fixed. The Mass had been given for all eternity. Judas had gone from it to betray our Lord - and whenever the reality of the Mass is denied and people depart from belief in it, the Lord is again betrayed. And then Our Lord goes off with this small group of His disciples to pray. The Gospels do not say that the disciples thought that this was a strange thing to do, and indeed, we know that Our Saviour would often go off on His own to pray, so perhaps it was not out of the ordinary for Him. And perhaps after such an evening - full of meaning and significance - the disciples were happy for a few moments of quiet and reflection.

We, of course, know what is to happen. We know that Our Lord is preparing himself for the final moments before His death. But the disciples, of course, do not know that. For them it has been an extraordinary evening, one which they will not fully understand until after the resurrection. In fact, that very evening they had become the first Bishops of the Church; a Church which would be born from the side of Christ as He hangs dying on the cross, and which would be constituted on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit would breath life and courage into the terrified Apostles. But for Peter, James and John, this was all in the future. All they knew was that their master had asked them to go with Him to Gethsemane, and there to wait for Him, while He prayed.

It was not much that He asked. Just to wait and pray with Him. But they fell asleep. The unutterable loneliness of bearing the burden of the sins of the world was taken on His shoulders, and all He has asked was that they wait for Him. He was contemplating His duty, His task for the salvation of the world. All He wanted was that humanity would be there are witness His prayer. But they could not stay awake. And for all eternity, we do not. We fall asleep to the presence of God. We take Him for granted, and He waits for us… not far off, just a stones throw away. Praying for us.


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