The Agony in the Garden
I have been reflecting on the Agony in the Garden since Palm Sunday. So many images have come to me. I think also of the comparisons of Jesus and Adam, the Garden of Eden and the Garden of Gethesemene. I thought about our own Garden of Life and the agony that we sometimes go through. Jesus has been instructing as all through his time here on earth to teach us about the Way of the Father and ultimately how we need to surrender to Him completely and to trust in him with out any fear or reservations.
Thinking back to Adam in the Garden, I always recall the Fall. How through the tempting of Satan, all things had changed. We were supposed to have eternal life then, but we fell and our eyes were opened and especially to our nakedness. Our nakedness in the fact that we are stripped bare and are vulnerable to all that is around us. I have also been dwelling on the disciple in the Garden with Jesus who, when threatened with capture sheds the only thing that clothes him and runs away from Jesus naked. Think about it. Have we done the same? Have we run away from Jesus at a time when we should have stood by his side and also tried to console him by following his examples? It is at these times that we should bring this before the priest as we go to Confession. When we go to Confession, we are also stripped bare and our sins and transgressions exposed through the light of the Holy Spirit. But there is hope and we are then clothed once again with the light of our Heavenly Father, as the priest is standing in for Jesus, the True High Priest and gives us absolution for the sins we have confessed.
When we find ourselves dealing with our own Agony in the Garden, it is time for us, as Jesus did, to call out to our Heavenly Father and pray to him. To ask also for Him to give us the support we need just as He sent an Angel to strengthen and support Jesus in his darkest hour. Yes, the Angels are all around us and are sometimes sent to help us and to strengthen us. Sometimes we don’t see them or feel their presence because our eyes may be closed to the Way of the Father and we lose sight of Him. Rest assured, though that He does hear our prayer and sends the Heavenly Hosts to help us. We should be confident to their presence even though we don’t see them. Afterall, we profess this in the Nicene Creed: I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
Many times we pray, as Jesus did, to let this cup pass me by. The hardest thing, and sometimes very agonizing, is to surrender to God’s will and accept the trials that we go through. It could be our own soul searching, when we question our faith, it could be the illness of ourselves or a loved one or friend, or it could also be the death of someone very close to us. In all these situations, God IS hearing our prayers. When you can’t pray on your own, ask the Holy Spirit to do it for you. It is during this time in our own Agony, that the Lord is indeed strengthening us.I can’t help but to recall what St Paul tells in in 2 Corinthians 12: 8-10:
Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
I would like to leave you with one final thought. We always think about Jesus and His Agony as well as our own, but what about Mary? What about Mary’s Agony? Her only Son goes with His disciples to share His last meal with them and to even give them a ‘heads up’ as to what is about to unfold. Even through the beginning of his Agony, he still sings of song of Praise and Thanksgiving to His Father after the meal. What may have been Mary’s thoughts as Jesus goes out to the Garden to pray? Did she know what was about to happen? Did the Holy Spirit give her some insight as to what was to befall her? Did she recall the words of Simeon, that her own heart would be pierced? Did she have that ‘feeling’ that mothers sometimes get when something happens to one of their children? What did she feel and what were her thoughts when she was told that her only Son had been arrested and was to stand trial?
Let us console also, the Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of Mary as we recall the Lord’s Passion and to be there for her as John was there for her. Let us also know without any doubt that Mary is always there to console us as we go through our own Agony in the Garden. It is during these times and times of betrayal that we should pray Psalm 55:
Listen, God, to my prayer; do not hide from my pleading; hear me and give answer. I rock with grief; I groan at the uproar of the enemy,the clamor of the wicked. They heap trouble upon me, savagely accuse me. My heart pounds within me; death’s terrors fall upon me. Fear and trembling overwhelm me; shuddering sweeps over me. I say, “If only I had wings like a dove that I might fly away and find rest. Far away I would flee; I would stay in the desert. “I would soon find a shelter from the raging wind and storm.” Lord, check and confuse their tongues. For I see violence and strife in the city making rounds on its walls day and night. Within are mischief and trouble; treachery is in its midst; oppression and fraud never leave its streets. For it is not an enemy that reviled me –that I could bear –Not a foe who viewed me with contempt, from that I could hide. But it was you, my other self, my comrade and friend, You, whose company I enjoyed, at whose side I walked in the house of God. Let death take them; let them go down alive to Sheol, for evil is in their homes and bellies. But I will call upon God, and the LORD will save me. At dusk, dawn, and noon I will grieve and complain, and my prayer will be heard. He will redeem my soul in peace from those who war against me, though there are many who oppose me. God, who sits enthroned forever, will hear me and afflict them. For they will not mend their ways;they have no fear of God. He stretched out his hand at his friends and broke his covenant. Softer than butter is his speech, but war is in his heart. Smoother than oil are his words, but they are unsheathed swords. Cast your care upon the LORD,who will give you support. He will never allow the righteous to stumble. But you, God, will bring them down to the pit of destruction. These bloodthirsty liars will not live half their days, but I put my trust in you.
If you can, please listen to this song, especially as we recall the Agony in the Garden of our Lord Jesus Christ, and also that of our own.
Peace and strength, in the Lord Jesus Christ and the Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of Mary,