My family spent last night at the Holy Thursday liturgy at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. The bilingual service was a beautiful coming together of people and cultures who want to accompany Jesus in his agony and worship him as Lord.
I wrote this Gospel reflection for Catholic Mom about staying awake with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and I think it’s especially relevant for today. Link and text below:
On Palm Sunday, the Church collectively reads the narrative of the events beginning with the Last Supper and continuing through the Garden of Gethsemane, to Christ’s trial, torturous flogging and mocking, carrying of the cross, crucifixion, death, and entombment. Today’s Gospel reading is devastating.
I want to focus on the first Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary that is included in today’s Gospel: the Agony in the Garden. One striking aspect of this passage is that Jesus asked the disciples for something simple: to keep watch and stay awake with Him. But the disciples fell asleep. They had one job, but they couldn’t follow through.
Despite the fact that the only named people who accompanied Christ to the Garden of Gethsemane fell asleep, Matthew strikingly shares details of Jesus’s prayers with us. We know that Jesus left the disciples three times to pray. We know that He prostrated himself in prayer. We even know the specific words of His prayers, which are all widely known. His first prayer, for example, is,
“My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!”
With the disciples asleep, who witnessed Jesus’s most fervent prayers? Who stood watch with Him?
Scripture does not reveal who this witness was, but it comforts me to imagine that Jesus’ mother was this witness – that she was near Him in the Garden, that she prayed to the Divine Father alongside her Divine Son, and that she gave witness to Jesus’ prayers.
Imagining Mary awake in the Garden of Gethsemane gives me comfort because it leads me to believe that Jesus was not alone in His most desperate moments of prayer. He had the love of His mother – our mother.
In a similar way, when we feel challenged or alone, we can ask Mary to accompany us and walk with us through the moments in our lives that may feel like Gethsemane.
How can you invite Mary to be near you today?
Lord, pardon us for falling asleep when You have desired our alertness. Thank You for giving us Your mother as our own. Help us to remember that You and our Blessed Mother are always with us.