Today, I’m thinking of the agony felt by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is a story recounted in three of the four gospels, those of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and showcased by the Catholic Church as the first sorrowful mystery of the rosary. It takes place immediately after Jesus institutes the Sacrament of the Eucharist in the upper room and immediately before he is betrayed by Judas and arrested in this same garden. Aside from the obvious (the sins of mankind weighing on him), it is interesting to me for two reasons: 1) Jesus is totally alone when he experienced the agony, and 2) Jesus gives us another lesson in prayer.
According to Matthew, Jesus asks his apostles to “wait here while I go over there and pray.” According to Luke, he separates from them by “about a stone’s throw.” So he is alone while he kneels and prays, asking the Father to, according to Luke, “… take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” Luke says that “He was in such agony and prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.” It seems to me that there might have been a witness to this agony, since such details were recorded by the evangelists despite Jesus’ solitude. Perhaps one or more of the apostles (that didn’t fall asleep), perhaps Matthew himself, spied on Jesus during this agony. Of course, there are alternative explanations: a supernatural inspiration by the Holy Spirit or a maybe when they met up again before the arrest there was some blood on Jesus’ face and the apostles asked him what had happened.
But the most intriguing revelation in the story may be Jesus’ prayer. It seems to match up with a phrase from Lord’s Prayer: “… thy will be done.” I’m talking about the phrase “… not my will but yours be done.” I’m inclined to think that a consideration of the Father’s will is important in any prayer we pray. I’m inclined to think that if we don’t get what we want in prayer, maybe what we ask for is not according to the Father’s will. In any case, I think it is important to utter “Thy will be done” whenever we pray for something. After all, Jesus taught us to say that (the Lord’s Prayer) and even used the phrase himself (during the agony in the garden).
The photo is of a monolith found on the grounds of the Trinity Heights Center in Sioux City, Iowa, dedicated to this first sorrowful mystery of the rosary.