It’s All in the Emphasis

One of the songs I played during the weekend Ignatian retreat I gave this past weekend was Danielle Rose’s Agony in the Garden, in which Jesus prays to his father, wondering if there is another path than the one that has been set before him.

The line that struck me was Jesus’ saying: “If your love permits, let this cup pass me by. But let it be as you would have it, not as I,” a line that gets repeated a number of times in the song. The words of the song paraphrase Luke’s Gospel, in which Jesus prays, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.

In some ways, Jesus prayer is not very different from my prayers of petition. I ask God for something I want, some result I would like to see, and almost always remember to add, “But your will be done, Lord.”

But if I’m really honest, I have to admit there is an enormous difference between Jesus prayer and mine. I don’t think I relized how much until I heard those words repeated over and over again in the song.

The difference is not in the words themselves – mine are almost exactly the same as Jesus’ words. The difference lies in the emphasis.

When I hear Jesus says the words, what I hear is: IF if is your will, take this cup away from me; NEVERTHELESS NOT MY WILL, BUT YOURS, BE DONE. I see the first part of the sentence in really small type and the second part big and bold.

When I say the words, they come out very different. It is more like: THIS IS WHAT I WANT LORD, but your will, not mine, be done.

The recognition was a good one. As I contemplate it, I know that I want my version of the prayer to sound more like Jesus’ version. But I know I’m not there yet.