Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Garden of Gethsemane

Matthew 26:36-45
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."
...Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, 
"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter.  "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." 

He went away a second time and prayed, 
"My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."
...When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.  So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"

Gethsemane means "olive press" and the twisted and gnarled olive trees are all throughout the garden, some even dating back to the time of Jesus.  Just next to the garden is the Basilica of Agony, built between 1919-1924 by the famous architect, Antonio Barluzzi.  I found the following description {here} which gives beautiful details, but the Basilica is something you just have to see in order to fully appreciate the architecture and intricate mosaic facade:
    "The facade, enclosed by an elegant wrought iron fence, stands at the top of a flight of steps. A mass of pillars supports the great arches surrounding the atrium, while the tympanum is adorned with a modern mosaic representing Jesus as the Link between God and the Human Race. Inside, some remnants of the mosaic paving document the existence of the ancient Byzantine church. The presbytery is the part of the church which most attracts the attention, since a large fragment of the rock on which Jesus is supposed to have prayed the night before the Passion can be seen in front of the high altar. The rock is entirely surrounded by a crown of thorns in wrought iron. In the lunette in the apse is a mosaic representing Christ in Agony being Consoled by an Angel. In the side apses are other mosaic representations of episodes in Jesus' passion, such as the Kiss of Judas and the Arrest of Jesus."
This was my favorite ceiling of all the churches we visited:
Mark 14: 45-50
Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Rabbi!" and kissed him.  The men seized Jesus and arrested him. Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
"Am I leading a rebellion," said Jesus, "that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me.  But the Scriptures must be fulfilled." 
Then everyone deserted him and fled.

Did you notice the prayer etched on the sign in the third picture?  May we follow Christ's example, that in the darkest night, we come to our Father with honesty and trust.

"Oh Jesus, in deepest night and agony you spoke these words of trust and surrender to God the Father in Gethsemane.  In love and gratitude, I want to say in times of fear and distress: My Father, I do not understand you, but I trust you." 

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