Agony in the Garden
by Father Charles Irvin, M.Div, J.D.
Immediately after this final supper with His disciples,
Jesus, goes to His customary place of prayer, a grove of
olive trees on the Mount overlooking Jerusalem. The Agony in the Garden
reveals Jesus' anguish and fear
as He approaches His "hour."
The climactic moment of His mission now is here: The Infinite Wisdom of
the Father Who takes on the form of a slave, is obedient even unto death, even death upon the Cross - for us.
Often Jesus had gone to Gethsemani, the Mount of Olives. There He and
His disciples would rest or Jesus would spend the night in prayer.
Judas, one of the Twelve, knew the place well. For hours Jesus prayed to
His Father while the disciples, not understanding that the hour of the cosmic
clash between darkness and Light had arrived, fell soundly
We can well imagine that as Jesus prayed on the Mount of Olives,
He looked across the narrow Kidron Valley into the Temple area. From the Roman fortress - the Antonia - situated at the northwest
corner of the Temple esplanade, soldiers' lanterns began to file out of the darkness.
Once outside the city walls, the column headed down the hill and then began to climb the Mount of Olives. Nowhere in the scriptural portraits
does Jesus express such agonizing terror, such deep
anguish and distress as He is about to fulfill
His destiny: to offer His life in love to the
Father, for us. For only in this way could the victory over Satan,
sin and death be accomplished. Trembling with fear,
drenched with the sweat of agony, He watches the torches coming up the hill
towards Him. Judas, one of His closest followers is at the head of the
Run away? Would it not have been possible in the darkness of that night? But from the depths of
His Being, He cries out "ABBA." The word of a
Child for its own Father. A babbling sound of tender love
, of firm obedience. "ABBA, Father, all things are possible
to Thee; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will but what Thou wilt."
The traitor, incredibly, is one of the Twelve. A kiss, a sign of
love, consummates the betrayal: "Is it with a kiss, Judas,
that you hand over the Son of Man?" Both Matthew and Luke speak not only of the sleep of the disciples but add
that at the arrest, "they all forsook Him and fled." Saint Louis de
Montfort comments: "He suffered in His disciples, one of whom bartered Him for money and betrayed
Him; another, their leader, denied Him and the rest abandoned Him."
Alone, Jesus faces trial and condemnation. In utter
loneliness, Jesus the Lord of Glory
is led away to His trial. The eternal and incarnate
Wisdom, the human face of God, infinite Love incarnate, is seized like
a common criminal to be judged by His creatures. For our sins and for our
salvation, He is "led like a sheep to
Quietly, walk into the Garden. Go up to Jesus as He
trembles with fear, soaked with sweat of blood.
My Jesus, You are alone
Give me the strength to remain with You
throughout Your passion and death.
Never let me betray You.
May I suffer and die with You.
With You, may I also be a holocaust of love to the Father.
Then with You I shall rise in glory.
We adore You O Christ and we bless You
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.
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