1 APRIL 2012. A blessed Palm Sunday to one and all. If your parish was anything like ours this morning, the choir seemed to be a bit better, the crowd seemed to be a bit larger, and subtly you could feel the element of anticipation in the air. The joy of Easter is coming. But, as we begin Holy Week let's gaze upon one element from today's reading of the Passion from the Gospel of Saint Mark.
After the Last Supper, Christ and a few of the Disciples withdraw to the garden of olives to pray. As the Lord falls prostrate in prayer, He agonizes:
"Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will."
Jesus, true God and true man, knows the pain of the passion that is to come. He knows that he will be crucified and die a painful and humiliating death by human standards.And, knowing this, He prays to the Father in the most tender and intimate of words--Abba--and asks that the Father take away the passion from Him. In today's language, the prayer might say: "Please Dad, if only there is some way I can avoid this . . . ."
But the Divine Will reigns perfectly in Christ as He is God and in full communion with the Father and Holy Spirit. So, our Lord's prayer in the Garden of Olives is not merely a cry to avoid the pain to come; it is a true submission to the will of the Father. "[B]ut not what I will but what you will." Again, in today's words: "But, I will always be obedient to you Dad."
This account of Christ's prayer gives us a very real sense of Christ the man--in fear and trembling praying to avoid the pain of the passion and crucifixion that He knows is coming, but it also gives us the truest picture of Christ's divinity--His complete docility to the Will of God reigning in Him without regard for the physical--the human--consequences.
I wish everyone a truly blessed Holy Week.