Christ in Gethsemane,
Painted by Heinrich Hofmann (1824-1911)
Painted in 1886,
Oil on canvas
© Riverside Church, New York, NY
Your will be done!
Jesus came with them to a small estate called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, 'Stay here while I go over there to pray.' He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with him. And sadness came over him, and great distress. Then he said to them, 'My soul is sorrowful to the point of death. Wait here and keep awake with me.'
And going on a little further he fell on his face and prayed: 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.'
He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter: 'So you had not the strength to keep awake with me one hour? You should be awake, and praying not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'
Again, a second time, he went away and prayed: 'My Father, if this cup cannot pass by without my drinking it, your will be done!'
Reflection on the Painting
Immediately after the Last Supper, Jesus went away with John, James and Peter to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. Our painting by Heinrich Hoffman shows Jesus praying to His Father (the light in the sky), whilst the disciples are asleep in the background. The thorny bush in the bottom left corner foretells the Passion which is about to commence. The expression on Christ's face and His outstretched arms show His resolve and acceptance that His hour has come.
This was Christ's darkest hour. From the words He spoke to His Father, we can feel that His prayer was very intense. Jesus was in a moment of agony and anxiety. He was fully human, whilst being fully divine. What is so beautiful about this prayer at Gethsemane, is that Jesus is completely honest towards His Father. He shares exactly how he feels. Complete openness. Yet at the same time, Jesus displays in His prayers a complete obedience and dedication to God, for His Will to be done… Prayer does not change God's plan for us… but prayer changes us to fit to the will of God… It aligns our will to His will…
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Readings related to Matthew 26:36-42
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