Agony in the Garden Meditation: Matthew 26:36-46

From Fr. Gallagher's An Ignatian Introduction to Prayer: 
Scriptural Reflections according to the Spiritual Exercises, 
pages 78-79.

For a PDF 1 Page Handout to Print (click here)

Scripture Reading

As I begin, I become aware of the Lord present to me, looking upon me with love, desirous of speaking to my heart…

Prayerfully, I read Matthew 26:36-46


I accompany Jesus as now he enters his time of sorrow, of burden, the time of the cross… I ask him to show me, through his cross, the meaning of my own sorrows and burdens…

I join Jesus and the Eleven as they walk alongside the city walls toward the Garden of Gethsemane… It is night… I hear the quiet sounds of the night, I feel the heaviness in the hearts of the disciples. My heart too knows times of heaviness and foreboding…

My soul is sorrowful even to death…” With great reverence, I ponder the sorrow of Jesus, a deep sorrow that nearly overwhelms his life itself… What stirs in his heart? In my heart? I speak to him of my own sorrow…

Now I see Jesus go a little farther into the Garden… and he is alone. The three near him sleep. Humanly, he is utterly alone, in his time of need. My heart too knows what it means to feel alone… I speak to him…

His energy fails him… He falls on his face upon the earth, and a cry rises with anguish from his heart, to the Father: “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me…” There is in Jesus a deep, deep desire to be freed of the burden he carries, the burden that lies ahead: “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me…” How often I too have prayed that prayer: let this cup pass… the cup of physical weakness and pain, of responsibility, of struggles in relationships… I am there with Jesus, prostrate on the earth…

Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” Two wills: “as I will,” “as you will.” And, though it costs his humanity so much, Jesus bows his will to that of the Father… I pray with him, I ask the courage to accept, like Jesus, the Father’s will in my life… He comes, seeking the companionship and support of those close to him… and they sleep… But now I do not sleep… I speak to him…

I watch as, a second time, Jesus repeats his acceptance of the Father’s will: “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again, a third time… and still he is alone…

Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.” His prayer has strengthened him, he is ready to face the cross… I pray for the same strength…

After the Prayer

  1. What word in this Scripture most spoke to my heart?
  2. What touched my heart in this time of prayer? What did my heart feel as I prayed?
  3. What did I sense the Lord saying to me?

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