Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and His disciples followed him. On reaching the place, He said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, He found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” He asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Luke 22:39-46
You are in the garden
Feel the warmth of the sun upon your face as it highlights the green leaves. Jesus often came to this garden to pray. He loved the solitude and He found solace there. But this night was different. It was damp and gray and the light of the moon could hardly be seen. It was strange and uncomfortable, as though a storm was approaching and it would be a heavy storm; a storm that would create much damage. You hear footsteps and the rustling of leaves. You turn to see Jesus, followed by His disciples. He asks them to sit while He walks further up the hill to pray. Peter, James, and John continue to walk with Him. His pace is guarded and His face is somber. There is sorrow in His eyes. Those beautifully radiant eyes that pull you into Him and bring you a sense of peace, are not radiant on this night. Instead, they are sorrow-filled. Everything about Him seems different. His confidence is gone and every move He makes reflects the depth of His sorrow.
“My soul is sorrowful even to death.”
He looks to these three men; the three who were closest to Him, and tells them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” He walks a bit further and falls to His knees in prayer. He is trembling as He prays, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” His heart is broken and He is frightened; so frightened that His sweat becomes drops of blood. Your heart breaks as you watch Him in agony. You want to comfort Him. You want to walk to Him, wrap your arms around Him, gently touch His cheek, and assure Him that He is not alone and all will get better. But you cannot! You can do none of this. You cannot comfort Him. You can only watch and as you watch, you begin to sob uncontrollably. Through your tears, you see a light approaching. You recognize it as the light of an angel who was sent by the Father to comfort Him. He continues to pray but His tone has changed. It is as though He has accepted the will of His Father and no longer asks for the cup of suffering to be taken from Him. He is resigned to His fate for He knows that the hour, for which He came into this world, is near. Very near. Slowly, He stands and walks to His disciples. They were very tired and had fallen asleep. This hurts Him. He depended upon them. “Why are you sleeping?” He asks them. “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.”
My Betrayer is at Hand
You know this story. You have seen it in your mind’s eye many times and not wanting to witness it further, your mind’s eye pulls you from the scene. You are no longer in the garden but you cannot dismiss the experience. Although you have meditated on this mystery many times, you have never seen it so vividly. It is especially disturbing because you know what is ahead: The mockery, humiliation, and scourging. The crown of thorns, carrying His cross and, ultimately, His Crucifixion. These are the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.
The Sorrowful Mysteries
During Lent, I usually pray only the Sorrowful Mysteries and there are times when I choose just one and meditate on it through all five decades. But this is my way. We each have our way of praying the Rosary.
We have all gone through our own personal agonies; perhaps many. Of the five mysteries, we each have one which is more personal to us than then the others; one that we have lived or are living now. In this, we may find ourselves, once again, within the mystery. The difference, of course, is that as you live this scene, you are living it with Our Lord and because you are living it with Him, you find yourself much closer to Him. At times you may feel you are in His skin and suffering with Him. But despite His agonies, He comforts you. And He always will. “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
“Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
We were given this guarantee and we know it to be true. We know it not because it has been proven to us but because we trust our faith. We know it because if it were not true, the sufferings Jesus endured would have been for naught. So, we contemplate each sorrowful mystery. Lent offers us the opportunity to reach more deeply into the Passion and, as we do this, we become more grateful to Our Lord for the suffering He accepted on our behalf. And we never forget His words, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
As it has been said, “Good Friday always comes before Easter”
Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye, no beauty to draw us to him. He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, knowing pain, Like one from whom you turn your face, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.
Yet it was our pain that he bore our sufferings he endured. We thought of him as stricken, struck down by God and afflicted, But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, all following our own way; But the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all.
Though harshly treated, he submitted and did not open his mouth; Like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep silent before shearers, he did not open his mouth. Seized and condemned, he was taken away. Who would have thought any more of his destiny? For he was cut off from the land of the living, struck for the sins of his people. He was given a grave among the wicked, a burial place with evildoers, Though he had done no wrong, nor was deceit found in his mouth But it was the Lord’s will to crush him with pain. By making his life as a reparation offering he shall see his offspring, shall lengthen his days, and the Lord’s will shall be accomplished through him. Because of his anguish he shall see the light; because of his knowledge he shall be content; My servant, the just one, shall justify the many, their iniquity he shall bear. Therefore I will give him his portion among the many, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, Because he surrendered himself to death, was counted among the transgressors, Bore the sins of many, and interceded for the transgressors.