When the Apostles had asked our Lord whether they should draw their swords to defend Him from those who came to the entrance of the Garden of Olives to arrest Him, our Divine Savior posed a question of His own. He said: “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (Jn. 18:11), or in other words, “Must I not do the will of my Father?”
Those words must have struck the Apostles with a particular force, for had they not heard this same Christ but a few short moments before ask His Father three separate times to let this same cup of agony pass from Him. If they heard our Lord ask that the chalice pass from Him, they also heard His humble submission: “Not My will but Thine be done.”
The first Adam went wrong from the moment he refused to identify himself with God’s design for him. Both Adam and Eve were called upon to accept God as the ruler of their hearts and actions and were given a test of their obedience and loyalty. They were asked, as we are all asked, to accept His law with their whole hearts and souls and by an act of the free will.
Both Adam and Eve rejected God as their law giver and by their act of rebellion decided to be law unto themselves – to do what they themselves chose and not what God chose for them. Our First Parents each in turn said: “My will, not Thine be done,” and in so doing, turned Paradise into a desert. The words of Christ spoken in the olive grove: “Thy will, not mine be done” turned the desert into Paradise, and made Gethsemani the gate to Heaven.
The Son of God, according to the Fathers, descended from heaven and clothed Himself with our flesh for three reasons: the one to redeem us by His Blood, the others to teach us by His doctrine the way to heaven, and finally to instruct us by His example.
Among many other instructions Christ has given us, one of the chief is that we should live in entire conformation to the will of God. This is a doctrine He taught us not only in words, when He bid us say to His eternal Father, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6:10), but what He has confirmed by His own example, because He Himself tells us, “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (Jn. 6:38).
It is the testimony of millions who have tried to find peace of mind and happiness in this life by shunning the will of God, that they have tasted nothing but the bitter and persistent feelings of disillusionment, and agonizing sense of incompleteness, and a painful sense of frustration. These symptoms are seldom isolated, but usually hang together, one or the other predominating. Blessed is the person who can recognize the symptoms and straightway start to return to God’s plan for them.
Christ accepted the bitter cup offered by His Father and in doing so did the will of God. We must have the same trust in God. If God offers us a bitter chalice to drink to the dregs, let us do so with courage and faith. If God gives us a cup, it must be the very best that the wisest love can provide for us.
Pray – one our Father and Hail Mary today that you may always have faith enough to accept any type of cup God offers you. Say to God:
If there should be some other thing
Better than all the rest
That I have failed to ask, I pray
Give Thou the very best
Of every gift Thou dost deem
Better than ought I hope or dream.
*Reflections on the Passion by Father Doyle.