Pope: Prayer in the Garden of Olives Points Out Path to Freedom

In His Agony, Jesus 'Also Sees Me, and He Prays For Me'

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 6, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI on Thursday dedicated his homily at the Mass of the Last Supper to a reflection on the Agony in the Garden.

He referred to Jesus as not only light and goodness, but also as "communication."

"Jesus goes forth into the night. Night signifies lack of communication, a situation where people do not see one another. It is a symbol of incomprehension, of the obscuring of truth. It is the place where evil, which has to hide before the light, can grow. Jesus himself is light and truth, communication, purity and goodness. He enters into the night. Night is ultimately a symbol of death, the definitive loss of fellowship and life. Jesus enters into the night in order to overcome it and to inaugurate the new Day of God in the history of humanity," he said.

Though the three Apostles chosen to accompany Christ in his prayer fell asleep, they did hear some of Jesus' words to the Father and noted his posture, details transmitted in the Gospels to Christians of all time.

"Jesus called God 'Abba,'" the Pope said. "The word means – as they add – 'Father.' Yet it is not the usual form of the word 'father,' but rather a children’s word – an affectionate name which one would not have dared to use in speaking to God. It is the language of the one who is truly a 'child,' the Son of the Father, the one who is conscious of being in communion with God, in deepest union with him."

The Holy Father reflected that Jesus' relationship with God is the most characteristic element of Jesus in the Gospel.

"He is constantly in communion with God. Being with the Father is the core of his personality," he said. 

In this night of prayer, Benedict XVI continued, "Jesus struggles with the Father. He struggles with himself. And he struggles for us. He experiences anguish before the power of death."

Not only does he dread death as every living creature does, Christ "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," the Pope added. "This moment of Jesus’ mortal anguish is thus an essential part of the process of redemption. [...] 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."

Standing in truth

Benedict XVI explained that Jesus teaches us the path to freedom in his prayer on the Mount of Olives.

"[A]s the Son, he places this human will into the Father’s will: not I, but you. In this way he transformed the stance of Adam, the primordial human sin, and thus heals humanity. The stance of Adam was: not what you, O God, have desired; rather, I myself want to be a god. This pride is the real essence of sin. We think we are free and truly ourselves only if we follow our own will. God appears as the opposite of our freedom. We need to be free of him – so we think – and only then will we be free."

The Pope characterized this attitude as the "fundamental rebellion present throughout history" and the "fundamental lie which perverts life."

"When human beings set themselves against God, they set themselves against the truth of their own being and consequently do not become free, but alienated from themselves. We are free only if we stand in the truth of our being, if we are united to God," he said.

"In his anguished prayer on the Mount of Olives, Jesus resolved the false opposition between obedience and freedom, and opened the path to freedom. Let us ask the Lord to draw us into this 'yes' to God’s will, and in this way to make us truly free."

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