Skip to comments.On the Prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane
Posted on 02/23/2012 7:42:45 PM PST by ELS
On the Prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane
"Nowhere Else in Sacred Scripture Do We Gain So Deep an Insight Into the Inner Mystery of Jesus"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the Italian-language catechesis Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience held in Paul VI Hall. The Pope reflected today on the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane.
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Dear brothers and sisters,
Today I would like to speak about the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane, in the Garden of Olives. The setting of the gospel account of this prayer is particularly significant. Jesus sets out for the Mount of Olives after the Last Supper, while He is praying together with His disciples. The Evangelist Mark relates: “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (14:26). This likely alludes to the singing of some of the Hallel Psalms. These are hymns of thanksgiving to God for the liberation of the people of Israel from slavery, and a plea for help in the face of ever new and present tribulations and threats. The path to Gethsemane is strewn with expressions of Jesus, which make us feel the impending fate of His death and foretell the imminent scattering of the disciples.
Having reached the grove on the Mount of Olives, also on this night Jesus prepares Himself for personal prayer. But this time something new occurs: He seems not to want to be alone. On many occasions, Jesus withdrew apart from the crowds and from His own disciples, remaining in “a lonely place” (cf. Mark 1:35) or going up into the hills, as St. Mark says (cf. Mark 6:46). At Gethsemane, however, He invites Peter, James and John to remain closer to Him. They are the disciples whom He called to be with Him on the Mount of the Transfiguration (cf. Mark 9:2-13).
This closeness of the three during the prayer in Gethsemane is significant. On that night also, Jesus will pray to the Father “alone,” since His relationship with Him is wholly unique and singular: it is the relationship of the Only Begotten Son. Indeed, it could be said that especially on that night no one can truly draw near to the Son, who presents Himself to the Father in His absolutely unique, exclusive identity.
Jesus, however, though arriving “alone” at the place where He will stop to pray, wills that at least three of His disciples remain nearby, in a closer relationship with Him. It is a spatial closeness, a request for solidarity in the moment when He feels death approaching. But above all, it is a closeness in prayer that in some way expresses their being with Him at the time He is preparing to accomplish the Father’s will unto the end; and it is an invitation to every disciple to follow Him on the way of the Cross. The Evangelist Mark relates: “And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And He said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch’” (14:33-34).
In the word he addresses to the three, Jesus once again expresses Himself in the language of the Psalms: “My soul is very sorrowful” is an expression from Psalm 43 (cf. Psalm 43:5). Steadfast determination “unto death” further recalls a situation that many of those who were sent by God in the Old Testament experienced and expressed in their prayer. Not infrequently, in fact, following the mission God entrusted to them meant encountering hostility, rejection and persecution. Moses feels in a dramatic way the trial he undergoes as he guides the people of Israel in the desert, and he says to God: “I am not able to carry the weight of this people alone, the burden is too heavy for me; If you deal with me thus, kill me at once if I find favor in your sight” (Numbers 11:14-15). Nor is it easy for the Prophet Elijah to carry out his service to God and to His people. The First Book of Kings relates: “He himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree; and he asked that he might die, saying, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers’”(19:4).
Jesus’ words to the three disciples He wills to remain close by during the prayer in Gethsemane reveal the fear and anguish He feels in that “Hour”; they reveal His experience of an ultimate, profound solitude precisely at the time God’s plan is being realized. And in Jesus’ fear and anguish, all of man’s horror in the face of his own death, the certainty of its relentlessness and the perception of the weight of evil that laps against our lives are recapitulated.
After the invitation addressed to the three to remain and watch in prayer, Jesus “alone” turns to the Father. The Evangelist Mark tells us that, “going a little farther, He fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him” (14:35). Jesus falls face to the ground: It is the prayer posture that expresses obedience to the Father’s will -- a total, trusting abandonment to Him. It is a gesture that is repeated at the beginning of the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, as well as at monastic professions and diaconal, priestly and episcopal ordinations in order to express in prayer, and also in a bodily way, the complete entrustment of oneself to God, and reliance on Him. Jesus continues by asking the Father that, if it were possible, this hour might pass from Him. This is not only the fear and anguish of a man faced with death; it is the inner turmoil of the Son of God, who sees the terrible flood of evil that He must take upon Himself in order to overcome it, to deprive it of its power.
Dear friends, in prayer we too must be capable of bringing before God our struggles, the suffering of certain situations, of certain days, the daily undertaking of following Him, of being Christians, and also the weight of evil that we see within ourselves and around us, so that He may give us hope, that he may make us feel His closeness and give us a little light on the path of life.
Jesus continues His prayer: “Abba! Father! All things are possible to Thee; remove this chalice from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will” (14:36). In this appeal, there are three revealing passages. At the beginning, we have the double use of the word that Jesus uses to address Himself to God: “Abba! Father!” (Mark 14:36a). We are well aware that the Aramaic word Abba was used by a child to address his father, and that it therefore expresses Jesus’ relationship with God the Father, a relationship of tenderness, affection, trust and abandonment. In the central part of the appeal there is a second element: the awareness of the Father’s omnipotence -- “All things are possible to Thee” -- that introduces a request in which the drama of Jesus’ human will in the face of death and evil again appears: “Remove this chalice from Me.” But there is a third expression in Jesus’ prayer, and it is the decisive one in which His human will adheres fully to the divine will. Jesus, in fact, concludes by saying forcefully: “Yet not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36c).
In the unity of the divine Person of the Son, the human will attains fulfillment in the total abandonment of the “I” to the “You” of the Father, who is called Abba. St. Maximus the Confessor affirms that, from the moment of the creation of man and woman, the human will was ordered to the divine will, and that it is precisely in its “yes” to God that the human will is made fully free and attains fulfillment.
Unfortunately, due to sin, this “yes” to God was transformed into opposition: Adam and Eve thought that “no” to God was the pinnacle of freedom, their being fully themselves. On the Mount of Olives, Jesus draws the human will back to its full “yes” to God; in Him the natural will is fully integrated in the orientation the Divine Person gives to it. Jesus lives His life in accordance with the center of His Person: His being the Son of God. His human will is drawn into the “I” of the Son, who abandons Himself totally to the Father.
Thus, Jesus tells us that it is only in conforming one’s own will to the divine will that the human being attains his true greatness, that he becomes “divine”; it is only by going out of himself -- only in his “yes” to God -- that the desire of Adam and of us all is fulfilled -- that of being completely free. This is what Jesus accomplishes in Gethsemane: by placing the human will within the divine will the true man is born, and we are redeemed.
The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church concisely teaches: “The prayer of Jesus during His agony in the garden of Gethsemane and His last words on the Cross reveal the depth of His filial prayer. Jesus brings to completion the loving plan of the Father and takes upon Himself all the anguish of humanity and all the petitions and intercessions of the history of salvation. He presents them to the Father who accepts them and answers them beyond all hope by raising His Son from the dead” (n. 543). Truly, “nowhere else in sacred Scripture do we gain so deep an insight into the inner mystery of Jesus as in the prayer on the Mount of Olives” (Jesus of Nazareth II, 157).
Dear brothers and sisters, every day in the prayer of the Our Father we ask the Lord: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). We recognize, that is, that there is a will of God with us and for us, a will of God for our lives, which more and more each day must become the reference point for our will and for our being. Furthermore, we recognize that “heaven” is where the will of God is done, and that “earth” becomes “heaven” -- i.e., the place of the presence of love, of goodness, of truth and of divine beauty -- only if on earth the will of God is done.
In Jesus’ prayer to the Father on that terrible and wondrous night of Gethsemane, “earth” became “heaven”; the “earth” of His human will, shaken by fear and anguish, was assumed by the divine will, so that the will of God might be accomplished on earth. And this is important for our prayer as well: We must learn to entrust ourselves more and more to divine Providence, to ask God to conform our wills to His. It is a prayer that we must make daily, because it is not always easy to entrust ourselves to God’s will, to repeat the “yes” of Jesus, the “yes” of Mary.
The Gospel accounts of Gethsemane painfully reveal that the three disciples chosen by Jesus to remain close to Him were unable to keep watch with Him, to share in His prayer, in His adherence to the Father, and that they were overcome by sleep. Dear friends, let us ask the Lord to grant us the ability to keep watch with Him in prayer; to follow the will of God each day, even if it speaks of the Cross; and to experience an ever greater intimacy with the Lord -- in order that a little of God's "heaven" might be brought to this "earth.” Thank you.
[Translation by Diane Montagna]
[In English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our continuing catechesis on Christian prayer, we now turn to the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane, the Garden of Olives, following the Last Supper. As the Lord prepares to face His death, He prays alone, as the eternal Son in communion with the Father. Yet He also desires the company of Peter, James and John; their presence is an invitation to every disciple to draw near to Jesus along the way of the Cross. Christ’s prayer reveals His human fear and anguish in the face of death, and at the same time shows His complete obedience to the will of the Father. His words, “not what I want, but what You want” (Mk 14:36), teach us that only in complete abandonment to God’s will do we attain the full measure of our humanity. In Christ’s “yes” to the Father, Adam’s sin is redeemed and humanity attains true freedom, the freedom of the children of God. May our contemplation of the Lord’s prayer in Gethsemane help us better to discern God’s will for us and for our lives, and sustain our daily petition that His will be done, “on earth as it is in heaven”.
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I offer a warm welcome to the group of British Army Chaplains taking part in today’s audience. My greeting also goes to the many student and parish groups present. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, including those from Hong Kong and the United States of America, I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!
© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
[In Italian, he said:]
Lastly, I wish to extend my greetings to the young, to the sick and to newlyweds. The figure of St. John Bosco, whom we remembered yesterday, leads us to consider how important it is to educate the new generations in the authentic human and spiritual values of life. Dear young people, I invoke upon you the special protection of the saint of youth, and I hope that you will always find wise teachers and sure guides. Dear sick, may your suffering, generously offered to the Lord, render the Church’s commitment to the world of youth fruitful. And may you, dear newlyweds, prepare yourselves to be the first and irreplaceable educators of the children the Lord gives to you.
[Translation by Diane Montagna]
Romans 8:15: For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Galatians 4:6: And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
There are only three occurrences of Abba, Father in the Scriptures, Mark 14:36, Romans 8:14, Galatians 4:6. All three invocations pertain to a heartfelt and deep in the bowels vocal cry/invocation to God the Father. What is the significance of these three? Is there is an interesting parallel between these? Two occurrences of the Abba, Father invocations are a heartfelt cry by the believer-saint; and one invocation is by our Lord in the garden of Gethsemane prior to His betrayal by Judas and arrest by those sent by the Jewish High Priest. And what is the significance of each of these? Consider Mark 14:34-36 first:
Mark 14:34-36: And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
Christ invoked prayer each day to His Father, but notice that at the end of His earthly ministry, at the pinnacle of His earthly ministry, at the foot of the cross, so to say, before His captors caught Him to take Him to Pontius Pilot, Jesus turns His prayer to address the Father Abba, Father! This marks a distinction of a first time usage and address to the Father with the words Abba, Father. There is a definite reason for this address: Jesus was set to fulfill the pinnacle work of the cross which the Father had sent Him to perform.
The cry to our Father, exactly like Christ Jesus cried out in prayer to His Father in Mark 14, is a natural cry once we fully digest the book of Romans base doctrines regarding the pillars of essentials truths of justification, sanctification. Once these are learned and applied, we come to the realization that we are adopted as a son of God (Romans 8:14) and if correctly digested in our hearts, and reckon these truths in our minds, we can then truly cry, Abba, Father.
Romans 8:14: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
The word "for" in verse 14 is a further explanation and amplification of what it means to walk after the Spiritto mind the things of the Spiritto be in the Spirit and have the Spirit of God dwelling in youand for the Spirit of God to quicken your mortal bodyand through the Spirit, mortifying the deeds of the body. It is a further full-blown detailed analysis of how you are to functionally live unto God at this point in our sanctification. The word "for" in verse 15 is a orientation and amplification of what it means to be adopted as a son of God. Romans 8:14-15 has a bunch of things packed into these verses: as many as are led by the Spirit of God youre supposed to know what that means; the sons of God youre supposed to know what that means; the spirit of bondage to fear youre supposed to know what that means; the Spirit of adoption the Spirit of adoption youre supposed to know what that means; and the pinnacle phrase "Abba, Father"the Spirit of adoption youre supposed to know what that means. The purpose of these verses are designed to give the son an initial knowledge to his basic orientation to sonship edification, which will begin the path unto the perfecting of the saint as a son of God.
The purpose, then, Biblical speaking, is that Christ Jesus cry's Abba Father to submit to the Father as His Son; and we as believer-saints in the grace of God also cry Abba Father to submit to our declaration that we are "sons" of our Father God as God declares in Romans 8:14-15.
Interesting that he doesn’t mention Luke’s singular observation: “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
I wonder how FReepers view this passage. What does it mean?
You're needlessly wasting server space with multiple repeated postings.
Have you actually read the postings or even just the dates of the source articles? If you had you would know that they are not "repeated postings" and YOU would not have wasted server space with your reply.
Let's just look at the titles. OK? The title of this thread, "On the Prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane," is self explanatory, no? Then the next thread title is, "On the Prayer of Jesus Dying on the Cross." Was Jesus crucified in Gethsemane? NO! So, how could these two threads be "repeated postings" when they are talking about prayer in two different places and at two different times? Now, the title of the third thread, "On the 3 Last Words of Jesus Dying on the Cross" goes deeper into the final prayers of Jesus before He dies on the Cross.
Thanks for your posts!
I ran across this commentary by Eusebius on Psalm 21:12 and it was something I hadn’t pondered before.:
“For Tribulation is very near, for there is NONE to help me.”
“The bitterest of the suffering heaped upon Him then was that not one of the angels who were propitious and eager to be of aid, nor any of the divine Powers, dared set foot in the domain of death or work with Him to relieve the souls present there. He alone could actually go on without fear, since it was only for Him that the gates of death had opened, and the prison guards of death were terrified at seeing Him advance alone. It was upon seeing the impious domination of this tyrant, so strong that none of the Powers of heaven would dare take their place beside Christ in the lower regions and work with Him for the salvation of the souls there, that He says with good reason that the final agony is near at hand and there is no one to assist him.”
Dem. Ev., 10.