|Christ in the Garden ~ Nickolai Ge (Gai)|
Then Jesus came with them to a plot of land called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples. Stay here while I go over there to pray. He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with him. And he began to feel sadness and anguish.Then he said to them, My soul is sorrowful to the point of death. Wait here and stay awake with me. And going on a little further he fell on his face and prayed, My Father, he said, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it. He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, So you had not the strength to stay awake with me for one hour? Stay awake, and pray not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing enough, but human nature is weak. (Matthew 26: 36-41)
In 1991 Pope John Paul II gave us a new set of Biblical Stations of the Cross inviting us to meditate on the gospel scenes as Jesus goes his way to Calvary. As we approach these Lenten thoughts we oughtn't skip the Gospel passage, thinking: "Oh I already know this." Saint Therese of Lisieux didn't even have a complete bible in her possession and yet reading what bits she had she said, Each time I read the gospels, God gives me new insights."
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We must remember this Gospel account of Gethsemane takes place at night. Jesus is sad and anguished and prays in that time when the most terrible things happen. Murder is concealed by the night's darkness. A baby is abandoned under a bridge at night. Domestic violence often takes place at night. Bombing raids that reduce cities to ash - at night. And there is the night time of a mind planning evil.
The scene takes place in the Garden of Gethsemane which means oil press. Most of the scene is taken up with Jesus feeling pressed or crushed with loneliness. Mother Teresa says that the great poverty of the first world (North America and Europe) is the loneliness of persons. And in the crushing loneliness Jesus sees everything mystically: all the death, the destruction, the exploitation and injustice of the world's story. And Saint Luke tells us Jesus sweat great drops of blood. (Luke 22:44)
Perhaps our redemption occurred then, in the bleeding of Jesus - not bleeding to satisfy a god who needs a blood drink, but as a mother bleeds when giving birth. Something new is here.