Pope Benedict reflects on the Garden of Gethsemane

Here is a particularly powerful quote from Pope Benedict’s homily for Holy Thursday, given April 5, 2012. In this section he is reflecting upon the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.

Jesus struggles with the Father. He struggles with himself. And he struggles for us. He experiences anguish before the power of death. First and foremost this is simply the dread natural to every living creature in the face of death. In Jesus, however, something more is at work. His gaze peers deeper, into the nights of evil. He sees the filthy flood of all the lies and all the disgrace which he will encounter in that chalice from which he must drink. His is the dread of one who is completely pure and holy as he sees the entire flood of this world’s evil bursting upon him. He also sees me, and he prays for me. This moment of Jesus’ mortal anguish is thus an essential part of the process of redemption. Consequently, the Letter to the Hebrews describes the struggle of Jesus on the Mount of Olives as a priestly event. In this prayer of Jesus, pervaded by mortal anguish, the Lord performs the office of a priest: he takes upon himself the sins of humanity, of us all, and he brings us before the Father.

To know that we have a God who is willing to go anywhere for us — even to the experience of death — so that he could raise it all up and we could live for ever is very reassuring. And more than a little mind-blowing.

As Mark Hart says in one of my favourite short quotes: “You have a God who would rather die than risk spending eternity without you.”

Have a blessed Triduum!