"Not My Will, But Yours Be Done"
This Lent I am trying to read the Lectio Divina every day. The lectionary reading from March 7 (the first Friday of Lent) was from Isaiah 58:1-9; Psalm 51; and Matthew 9:14-15. I also discovered (just yesterday) how to pray the rosary, so I am looking at the Mysteries each day, too. So I finished reading the above Scriptures and pondering how fasting is a spiritual act not because it in itself is so very holy, but because it serves as intercession for the oppressed, and for God's "will to be done on earth as it is in heaven," and then clicked over to read through the Sorrowful Mysteries. The first one caught my attention:
The First Sorrowful Mystery
THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN
- Jesus comes with his disciples to Gethsemani: "Stay here, while I go yonder and pray."
- Entering the garden with Peter, James, and John, Jesus prays, "My soul is sorrowful unto death."
- Jesus sees the sins of all mankind, whose guilt He has taken upon Himself.
- He sees the wrath of the Father which His sufferings must appease.
- So great is his anguish that His sweat becomes as drops of blood falling to the ground.
- An angel appears to Him from heaven to strengthen Him.
- "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet, not My will but Yours be done."
- Finding the disciples asleep: "Could you not watch one hour with me?"
- Jesus is betrayed by Judas, cruelly bound and led away.
- Father, by the merits of the agony of Jesus in the Garden, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Spiritual Fruit: God's Will be done
I had never noticed in the Scriptures before that an angel appeared to Jesus while He prayed in Gethsemane. So I of course had to look it up myself to verify. It wasn't in Matthew, Mark, or John, but then I finally came across it in Luke. While Jesus prayed in the Garden, saying, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done" (Luke 22:42), "An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him" (verse 43).
This happened to Jesus on another occasion, too: the temptation in the wilderness. Matthew 4 tells us He was "led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil" (verse 1). The three temptations bear at least some resemblance to some commonplace temptations for Christian complacency today: gluttony while our neighbors struggle and starve, superspirituality (or being so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good), and prosperity (name it and claim it; if you really have faith, you should be driving a late-model Cadillac). Perhaps the great spiritual battle Jesus fought in the wilderness, leaving him weak and in need of ministration from angels, was wading through all the theological "fluff" and distractions of the day and deciding to stand on the true ethos of the Word of God: love for God and one's neighbors, and justice for the oppressed.
An angel also appeared to strengthen Elijah, after he had successfully challenged the prophets of Baal and subsequently received a death warrant from Queen Jezebel. First Kings 19 finds him in a cave asking God for sweet release through death. And God did not tell him to get up and shake himself out of it and get back to work. The angel first ministered to his physical needs, sitting beside him while he slept, waking him every so often to eat.