Today is Holy Thursday. This evening, we begin our Triduum liturgy with the celebration of the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. We will listen to St. John’s account of Jesus washing of the feet of his disciples and reflect on his his sharing his last meal with them.
What follows after that meal is also an important part of the story, a part we give attention to with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament that follows the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
Following his last meal with his friends, Jesus goes to the garden to pray to his Father about what he knew he was about to undergo.
We cannot really appreciate the power of this episode unless we completely embrace one of the fundamental tenets of our faith – that Jesus was fully human as well as fully divine. Although this is something we profess every time we recite the Creed, I think we sometimes have a tendency to overemphasize the divine at the expense of the human.
Only in understanding that Jesus was as human as you or I, can we appreciate the real suffering Jesus underwent in the garden. Matthew says, Jesus began to feel sorrow and distress; Jesus says his “soul is sorrowful even to death.” This is not pretend suffering, this is not God manifesting suffering to make a point. This is the fully human Jesus truly experiencing an almost unbearable level of suffering.
And this fully human Jesus faces fear and dread of the suffering he knows he is about to undergo. He has known since turning his head toward Jerusalem how this story will end. He may not have known all of the details, but he had a clear enough idea what was going to happen.
Not surprisingly, Jesus says to His father – is this really necessary? Must I suffer so much? Is it possible for this cup to pass? But even as he asks, he knows how he will respond to his father’s request of him. This is someone who has lived his life saying Yes to God. Who has prayed and walked with God day after day. And Jesus’ lifetime of “yes’s” to God, leads to his big yes here – Your will, not mine, be done.
The question for us, is can we do the same? As you sit in the garden this evening with Jesus and his disciples, ask yourself: What cup do I ask God to let pass from me? And then ask yourself: Am I willing to instead ask God for the strength to bear the cup?