Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Agony in the Garden

The first sorrowful mystery is the one in which Jesus most clearly manifests his humanity. He know what's coming, and he's just plain scared. There are plenty of times in the Gospels when Jesus prays, but he's always been confident before. This time he does what we do -- he begs God to take this horrible choice away from him. This is waiting, yes, but not passive, dull waiting. He's waiting to be confronted with a moral choice, one in which the right answer is clear. The cup is not just the Passion as we usually think of it -- the grotesque physical suffering, the loneliness of desertion, the mockery and humiliation. The cup is also making the choice that will set the entire Passion in motion, the choice to "allow it for now" (Matt. 3:15).

But Jesus isn't just thinking of himself. The cup is also Judas's betrayal, and Jesus begs the Father to spare him that -- not because of the consequences, but because of the pain of seeing a friend betray him, and because of the effect it will have on Judas himself. Jesus has accepted the necessity of the Passion, but he pleads that it might come about some other way than having one of his trusted friends hand him over. The false kiss stings more than the whips.

Jesus, in the garden, is just like us. He is scared like us. His heart breaks over betrayal and lost friendships, just like ours do. He became like us in all things but sin, and that means being scared to death and sick with grief like us. Jesus isn't remote from our sufferings. He knows. And that makes him the perfect model of fortitude, of strength in weakness. "Power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9). That isn't just comforting drivel for us failures. That's Jesus, in the garden, sweating blood from sheer terror, and choosing the cup anyway.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Out of all the mysteries of the Rosary, the Agony in the Garden is my favorite. Well, favorite may not be the right word. It is the one I 'get' at the depths of my being. The anticipation and anxiety can be the worst part.