COMMENTARY: What Gethsemane teaches us about suffering

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The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America magazine and the author of many books. Photo by Kerry Weber, courtesy of James Martin

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America magazine and the author of many books. Photo by Kerry Weber, courtesy of James Martin

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(RNS) In Gethsemane, Jesus experiences the full range of human emotions, and he shares them with his friends in a fully human way. For us, expressing sadness and fear allows us to set aside our desire to be in control. It is also an invitation to let others love us.

  • gerry warkentine

    Hello Fr. Martin,this past Nov. I had the immense blessing of traveling to the Holy Land and three sites were extremely profound to me, one of them the Garden of Gethsemane.
    This meditation has placed me right back in the garden, I can smell the trees and the dirt.
    The idea that Jesus suffering in the Garden is his invitation to us that allows us to let others share in our suffering is huge for me. I keep everything bottled up, I don’t want to bother anyone.The invitation to let others love us is beautiful. Only Jesus. “My peace I give you” and I didn’t even realize the invite!
    You are such a gift to all of us, thank you for your insightful wisdom.

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  • ach

    What are your thoughts of what caused Christ to bleed from every pore? Was he stressing about what his disciples might do? His coming crucifixion? Many a man faced the same execution as Christ…was Christ that overwhelmed? Or did he begin to suffer for the sins of the world in Gethsemane and finished it on the cross?
    What could cause a man…let alone God to bleed from every pore but the weight of the worlds sin upon him? I cant imagine what he must have suffered know how I suffer just for my own sins, let alone the worlds. Back to my original question…what caused Christ to bleed from every pore?

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  • Bill Steo

    sum exSJ litt.dim. 1950
    What helps me most when meditating on Our Lord’s agony in Gethsemane is prayer of petition itself, as well as the example of his obedient submission. Jesus asked — did he not beg? — to be spared the sufferings he knew would come. He knew how the Romans abused prisoners. I think he had seen some hanging on crosses for hours in extreme pain. He probably knew what a flagellum was, with the bits of lead and cutting metal embedded in its several whips, and that the husky Roman soldiers used this to lash every part of a prisoner’s body, even his feet. Jesus could not help but be afraid of all this. I am encouraged to obey by Jesus’ acceptance of God’s will, but encouraged no less by his petition. I, too, do not fail if I ask God to spare me some imminent evil. It is not wrong to be afraid and ask to be spared.

  • Belen C Robles

    A most timely reading for Holy Thursday .I have shared this article on my wall. Thank you for this spiritual nourishment.

  • Kieran

    I am reading this during Reposition in St Patrick’s Cathedral , Melbourne. It is at a time of great personal trial . I have taken great comfort from your words . Pray for me . Kieran M.

  • Bridget Kostello

    Father Jim,

    As always, you have shed new light on how to look at this for me. It is easy to read the same Bible passage every year and not feel it–it is understood, but only momentarily as the rest of a busy life calls.
    But the way you compared Jesus suffering to what we go through–how he asked God to take this from Him in the same way we do–and how I can know that Jesus understands my suffering because He felt the same at one point (even with a much bigger loss ahead and much more suffering) gives my soul comfort and peace. It gives me a new way to speak to Jesus and to know I am heard–even when that cup is not taken I know that Jesus is with me to carry me and understands me.
    What an incredible, amazing gift. The older I get, the more it astounds me.
    Thank you for helping me to connect even further with Jesus’ love and sacrifices. You are a gift to us from Him.

    With humble respect,
    Bridget K.