The Agony in the Garden is the Mystery of Petition: We need not fear to bring all of our wants and needs to God in prayer.
It’s a perennial question: ought I ask God for things? Ought I ask God to help me get that job, or to help me find the money for a new car to replace this junker, or to help me actually get some sleep tonight? The question is less pointed as regards prayers for the well-being of others, but it still gets asked. Ought I to ask for things? Or should I simply ask for His will to be done, knowing that He knows what I truly need?
In the First Sorrowful Mystery, the Agony in the Garden, Jesus lays that question to rest. He is tired: unlike His disciples, He has not slept. He knows the torments that are coming, and He dreads them so much that He sweats blood. And He asks His Father in Heaven if this cup might pass Him by.
Jesus knows that it is His Father’s will that He die on the Cross. It is for this that He came, to lay down His life and then to take it up again. None of this is a mystery to Him. And yet, knowing His Father’s will, and sharing it perfectly, yet in His human anguish He asks for this cup to pass Him by.
But Jesus is human in all things but sin; and so we see that there is no sin in asking God for what we (in our human frailty) really want. Jesus does no less as He works through His dread.
Finally, indeed, He prays simply that His Father’s will be done; and so should we do as well. But He does not start there; He starts where He is and in His petition offers it to His Father.
And so should we do as well.
And then, it may well be God’s will for me that through lack of sleep I will learn compassion, or patience, or perseverance; or it might just be His will that I get a good night’s sleep.
Copyright 2015, Will Duquette
“Christ in Gethsemane” by Heinrich Hofmann – Self-scanned by User:JGHowes from 1945 print. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons