Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Your Will Be Done

This is the Mount of Olives, just outside the east wall of Jerusalem.  Much of it now is graves.  I suppose that in the time of Jesus most of it was covered with olive trees like the area in the left corner of the picture.  This is where Jesus went with his disciples after the Last Supper and where he prayed in agony that God would take away his cup of suffering (Mt. 26:36-46.)  Because the Gospels tell us he withdrew from his disciples to pray, most of us have imagined him in splendid isolation.  Paintings picture the scene that way as well.
Just yesterday, however, I read that at the time of the Passover the population of Jerusalem doubled because of all the pilgrims from around the country.  They could not all find lodging, so the Mount of Olives would have been one big campsite for many of the pilgrims.  Jesus and his disciples would have had to find space in the crowd.
The second time in Matthew that Jesus prays he says, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done."  Those last four words are from the Our Father that Jesus taught his disciples earlier in the Gospel.  They are the motivation that underlies all that Matthew is about to describe in his account of the Passion.  Acting on behalf of all mankind, Jesus conforms his will to that of his Father, as he goes to his suffering and death.  Jesus lives in us and can help us to do the same.  We pray with him, "Your will be done."

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