We move with Jesus this week from the upper room where he washed the feet of his friends to the garden of obedience where he washes the earth with his bloodlike sweat. He is separated from all his support except that of his Father, with whom he now speaks face-to-face. This week of watching moves us into a silence and a humility that all this is for me and us. The stage is cleared of all other characters and we join the apostles off to the side. They have seen him pray alone before and so drift off to wait for the next exciting installment of his and their lives. We in our turn are accustomed to this scene and we know what is coming soon. For just some time, we watch this holy man in spiritual combat. There is the inner conflict in him between his human desires to live into many exciting installments and his divinity, which has been molded to conform to his Father’s will through the installments of his entire life.
There was the garden of disobedience, where this drama began. God’s love for us was interrupted by our indulgent love for our selves. There was a tree from which we were not to eat. Now we watch Jesus, the new Adam, kneeling in a garden, fully aware of the good and evil around him, preparing to eat of the fruit of the tree that will bring us all back to life. Evil is about to have its way in one last grand hurrah. It is silent now and he senses a presence of the Divine Good, which he has felt before, saying that he is the Beloved. He is the Good, who will soon struggle with the forces of disobedience.
The noise of these forces intrudes on our silent watchings. Abandonment and denial become central characters, but keep your eyes on his. He receives the challenges to his goodness from the soldiers and his friend Judas. We hear him respond, “I am He.” He begins his final hours of fidelity to who he knows himself to be, the Anointed, the Lamb now being led to the sacrifice.
These prayer times for us are quiet and sensitive. We make ourselves available to be impressed by the God made man struggling to reveal to us his faithful love and the importance of our fidelity to who we are. We also are the anointed led into our own struggles against the forces of evil. Watch his eyes as he looks for Peter during and after Peter’s own encounter with his failures. Jesus is not a puppet playing out some charade of life. Listen to the noise around his silence and watch his physical responses to the abuse and violence.