Our Blessed Lord had designedly planned that Peter, James, and John should be afforded but a glimpse of His divinity when it burst forth on the occasion of His Transfiguration. Now in the Garden of Olives these same Apostles would see their Lord and their God bent and crushed under the weight of sin. The thought of the Transfiguration would have to strengthen them in this hour of disillusionment.
The Apostles had always known our Lord to be composed in the face of attack or crisis. For instance, when the elements of nature tossed their fishing boats until they, hardened fishermen though they were, quaked with fear, Christ was calm and unafraid; but in the Garden of Gethsemani they were to see this same Christ prostrate on the ground, bathed in a sweat of blood. That which made up the very essence of the anguish of Gethsemani was the fact that Christ, at that moment, took upon Himself the sins of the world – past, present, and future.
But why had Christ invited the Apostles to accompany Him to the Garden of Olives? Well, as He entered the darkness, He may have craved human companionship. It was not that the Apostles could do anything for Him, but that their very presence would support Him. Too, He wanted to teach them some important lessons.
The first lesson was this, that when one is oppressed, discouraged, heartbroken, and forsaken, he should pray. That is what Our Lord did. He was afraid. He was overwhelmed by the sins of mankind, His Apostles, His closest friends, fell asleep – yet He prayed. Always remember what our Lord told His weak Apostles when He awakened them the first time: “Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mt. 26:41)
The second lesson is equally apparent. While Christ’s closest friends were asleep as He went through the initial phases of the Passion, His enemies were very much awake. At that very moment Judas was briefing the soldiers on where to find Christ and how to apprehend Him. The soldiers were getting themselves ready to arrest the Son of God.
So it has always been, and always will be – the enemies of your soul and mine, the enemies of Christ and His Church never sleep. They are always more vigilant, more energetic, more active than we are.
Resolve today to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and let the picture of Christ in the Garden of Olives come to your mind. Approach your prostrate King – promise Him to do some positive penance for the sins you have committed. Ask Him to teach you this important lesson – that when doubts, trials, sorrows, and temptations assail you, you, following His example, will pray, pray, pray.
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*From Reflections of the Passion, by Father Charles Hugo Doyle, S.J., The Bruce Publishing Company, 1957, p. 17-19