Love is my perennial “Passion”
Published 3/16/16 by the Official Website of Luisa Piccarreta
The agony of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (third part)
Let’s go back to our story to continue with our meditation on the agony of Jesus. We have to make a little note to this story and it’s a kind of counterpoint that compares the attitude of the disciples with that of Jesus. These attitudes are put by Mark in opposition among them, to show how the acts of Jesus become the model that every disciple must follow. For example: the disciples were seated whereas Jesus fell prostrate on the ground, the disciples slept whereas Jesus stayed awake and prayed, the disciples were weak at that time, whereas Jesus found the strength to keep going. Around these opposing attitudes Mark shows how the disciples slept in the weakness of the flesh, closed in their will, whereas Jesus fell prostrate on the ground and stayed awake, He prayed in the power of the spirit, He opened to God’s Will and accomplished it. The gospel shows this difference not to humiliate the disciples, but to give strength to the action of Jesus and to emphasize the great scope of the event of the Passion.
Jesus came to this Hour, to this decisive hour in the history of man, that of faith. The real struggle is the struggle of man with God. After sin man continues to struggle with God, because he does not recognize Him as a father, but as a being to be feared, He is an antagonist to the man. If we recall the history of the people of Israel in the Old Testament we find the background of the ongoing struggle between God and his people, between God and man.
The people accused God of being a severe judge, a God who punishes, a God awful, whereas Jesus reveals to us a completely different face of God, the true face of God. But to discover this true face of God that Jesus reveals to us, we need faith. And faith, in this passage, is described precisely through the behavior of Jesus.
Faith is the passage from my will to the will of God. When can I fulfill the will of God? When I have faith in Him. Jesus has shown us the way to live this faith not with words, but rather with our life, abandoning ourselves fully to the Father, putting our life in his hands, accomplishing his will.
When does my will become the will of God? Luisa would say, when there is a complete and profound unity between the human and the divine will.
The agony of Jesus marks the moment when the wall between man and God was removed; “Happy is the night of our salvation, in which the Lord of life is immersed in all our nights, bringing the light of his name” (F. Silvano Fausti). In the agony of the Garden Jesus worked for the salvation of man, if each of us brings our nights in the night of Jesus, our sufferings in the suffering of Jesus, our questions in the question of Jesus, He will offer them to the Father and by accomplishing His will, everything will become salvation for us.
But let us continue with our reading of this passage of the Gospel of Mark and get to the verse 36: “And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee. Take away this cup from Me; nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt “.
In this prayer of Jesus we can identify three important steps: the first is represented by the first words of Jesus – Abba! Father! – It is a doubling of the term. Jesus called God twice, with two different names: Abba, that was a common term that young children would use to address their fathers with filial confidence and moreover it emphasizes the unconditional abandonment into the hands of their own father. And then Jesus reveals who this “Abba” is : it is God the Father, it is not God the judge, it is not God the punisher, it is not God the avenger, but God the Father, the one who loves.
A second step is characterized by the awareness of Jesus about the omnipotence of the Father: “All things are possible to you.” And this introduces a request, where there is the drama of the human will because of death and evil: “Take away this cup from me”. As Jesus felt this weight, this bitterness, He didn’t know if He could. He addressed to God who is omnipotent, so that He took away that cup away from Him.
And finally, the third step of the prayer of Jesus, is the decisive one: the human will adheres to God’s will. “Yet not what I will, but what thou wilt.”
The Pope, again in the catechesis of February 1, 2012, said: “In the unity of the divine person of the Son, the human will finds its complete fulfilment in the total abandonment of the I to the You of the Father, called Abba.
St Maximus the Confessor says that ever since the moment of the creation of man and woman, the human will has been oriented to the divine will and that it is precisely in the “yes”(fiat) to God that the human will is fully free and finds its fulfilment. Unfortunately, because of sin, this “yes” (fiat) to God is transformed into opposition:
Adam and Eve thought that the “no” to God was the crowning point of freedom, of being fully themselves. On the Mount of Olives, Jesus brings the human will back to the unreserved “yes”(fiat) to God; in him the natural will is fully integrated in the orientation that the Divine Person gives it. Jesus lives his life in accordance with the centre of his Person: his being the Son of God. His human will is drawn into the I of the Son who abandons himself totally to the Father. Thus Jesus tells us that it is only by conforming our own will to the divine one that human beings attain their true height, that they become “divine”; only by coming out of ourselves, only in the “yes” (fiat) to God, is Adam’s desire — and the desire of us all — to be completely free. It is what Jesus brings about at Gethsemane: in transferring the human will into the divine will the true man is born and we are redeemed. (Pope Benedict XVI).
The human will doesn’t stop being human, Jesus does not want the human dimension to be canceled, but He wants it to be submerged in the divine will (living “for” God “with” God and in “God”), so that it can be transformed or rather, conformed to Him. The human will no longer exist not because it was destroyed but because it was joined with the divine will becoming one, it was deified, realizing God’s plan to deify man.
On January 4, 1924 Luisa was thinking about the words of Jesus in the Garden and Jesus, moving in her interior, told her that it was not because of the chalice of His Passion that He said to the Father: ‘Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me’ it was the chalice of the human will which contained such bitterness and fullness of vices, that his human will, united to the Divine, felt such repugnance, terror and fright, as to cry out: ‘Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me.’ How ugly is the human will without the Divine Will which, almost as within a chalice, enclosed Itself in each creature!
The bitter cup that Jesus drank wasn’t the physical suffering, but the inner suffering because of the human will that does not enter into the divine will. Jesus knew that man’s sin lies in his inability to surrender to the will of God because of his distrust; and for Jesus this is a bitter cup, because at that moment he was experienced fully his humanity and saw that men were far from living the divine will. He saw that man could deify in his humanity but because of his distrust towards God he didn’t it.
He added as many as three times: ‘Non mea voluntas, sed Tua fiat (Not my will, but Yours be done) because He felt upon Himself the wills of creatures united together, all of their evils, and in the name of all He cried out to the Father: ‘May the human will be done on earth no more – but the Divine. May the human will be banished, and may the Divine Will reign.’ So, even from that time – and he wanted to do this at the very beginning of his Passion, because the calling upon earth of the Fiat Voluntas Tua on earth as It is in Heaven was the thing that interested Him the most and the most important one – he Himself said in the name of all: ‘Non mea voluntas, sed Tua fiat.’
In a certain sense Jesus wanted to take the human will and this is why He called with Him Peter, James and John as witnesses, and when it seemed that the human will wanted to get away from the divine will, because it was affected by suffering and had as its perspective the death and thus more distance from God, Jesus did an act of obedience and above all an act of love towards God, putting everything into his hands. He explained to each of us that it is possible, also at that time, to live this dimension. This is the redemptive value of suffering. Suffering does not redeem man because it makes him atone for his sins, but because it is experienced in the love that purifies sins. It is not the physical pain that cleanses us, but the inner struggle that the physical suffering makes us live.
Again the Pope in his catechesis, tried to transfer these theological reflections into the daily experience of the believer, and said: “Dear brothers and sisters, every day in the prayer of the Our Father we ask the Lord: “thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10). In other words we recognize that there is a will of God with us and for us, a will of God for our life that must become every day, increasingly, the reference of our willing and of our being; we recognize moreover that “heaven” is where God’s will is done and where the “earth” becomes “heaven”, a place where love, goodness, truth and divine beauty are present, only if, on earth, God’s will is done.
In Jesus’ prayer to the Father on that terrible and marvellous night in Gethsemane, the “earth” became “heaven”; the “earth” of his human will, shaken by fear and anguish, was taken up by his divine will in such a way that God’s will was done on earth.
And this is also important in our own prayers: we must learn to entrust ourselves more to divine Providence, to ask God for the strength to come out of ourselves to renew our “fiat” to him, to say to him “thy will be done”, so as to conform our will to his. It is a prayer we must pray every day because it is not always easy to entrust ourselves to God’s will, repeating the “yes” of Jesus, the “yes” of Mary.
The Gospel accounts of Gethsemane regretfully show that the three disciples, chosen by Jesus to be close to him, were unable to watch with him, sharing in his prayer, in his adherence to the Father and they were overcome by sleep” (Pope Benedict XVI).
In the gospel Jesus told his apostles: “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?” (verse. 41), but He did not said these words with bitterness, for their inability to stay awake, but for the inability to accept and face the dramatic moments of life. When man does not understand what is happening and this is too big for him here is that he takes refuge in sleep, to escape the events. Jesus said: “Are you still sleeping? ” because it was He, on behalf of all, who faced that drama and showed us how it is possible to live it in the right way, so that we too, looking at Him, can live it in the same manner. The first one to imitate so deeply the behavior of Jesus was Luisa. It was her, his little newborn of his Will, his little daughter, who felt such repugnance and fright at her will that, trembling, she clung to Jesus and cried out with Him: ‘Father, if it be possible, let this chalice of my will pass from me.’ And, crying, she added with Him: ‘Non mea voluntas, sed Tua fiat’, because at least one creature was needed in order to validate this contract with God.
We too, as Luisa and the three Apostles, are called to be witnesses of this “contract” because we too must learn to live it. Luisa lived it, the three apostles lived it after the resurrection when they re-read in the light of the resurrection of Jesus all his life and his Passion, and we too are called to take this path.
Perhaps the image of Jesus that the Gospel offers us is a bit different, but it is so true! The world is full of people who don’t accept the discourse that we are taking. People would like a different God and instead the beauty of it is that God manifested his face in this way: He shared our condition all the way, He shared our being before God and therefore our fear. The greatness of Christ is not in avoiding the human experience, but in living it. This is the face of God in Christianity, who says his greatness not distancing, but entering in the existence of man.