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Gethsemane: the Agony in the Garden and the Prayer of Jesus

“When God’s appointed time comes to save mankind from the slavery of sin, we contemplate Jesus Christ in Gethsemani, suffering in agony to the point of sweating blood. He spontaneously and unconditionally accepts the sacrifice which the Father is asking of him.” (Friends of God, no. 25)

The Gospel accounts have told us where Jesus went after the Last Supper: “He went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives (Lk 22:39), on the other side of the Kedron brook (Jn 18:1), and with his Apostles, came to the place called Gethsemane (Mt 26:36; Mk 14:32). It was a garden or orchard where there was an oil-press (this is the meaning of the name Gethsemane), and it was outside the city walls of Jerusalem, to the east of the city, on the way to Bethany.

This particular place must have been well known, because Jesus often met his disciples there (Jn 18:2). It is not surprising that the first Christians preserved the memory of where these transcendent events in the history of our salvation had taken place. In the Garden of Olives, seeing the imminence of his Passion, soon to be set in motion by Judas’ betrayal, Jesus our Lord warned us of the need to pray: “He said to his disciples, ‘Sit here, while I pray.’ And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch.’ And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt.”’ (Mk 14:32-36).

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