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Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch.”

I ask God for an awareness of Christ’s great love for us as he prepares to enter his Passion.

Prayer Text

Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will have your faith shaken, for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be dispersed. But after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.”

Peter said to him, “Even though all should have their faith shaken,
mine will not be.” Then Jesus said to him, “Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.” But he vehemently replied, “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all spoke similarly. 

Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be troubled and distressed. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch.” He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were  possible the hour might pass by him; he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.” When he returned he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

Withdrawing again, he prayed, saying the same thing. Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open and did not know what to answer him. He returned a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough. The hour has come. Behold, the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let us go. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

Mk 14:26-42

Reflection

By Ian Peoples, SJ

The summer before my senior year of high school, I was on the retreat leadership team for the summer ACTS retreat. During that retreat, we put on a live reenactment of Christ’s Passion and death, and I played the part of our Lord. As we planned during the weeks approaching the retreat, I thought the most challenging part would be carrying the seven-foot-tall cross that weighed at least 100 pounds. But something else happened.

The Passion play began with Christ’s Agony in the Garden. Three of my friends were playing the apostles who couldn’t stay awake. There was a kneeler in front of the audience where I was to reenact Jesus in his agony. After I “woke up” the disciples the first of three times, I returned to my prayer place. As I kneeled again, I felt Jesus asking me, “Do you see how much I love them?” As he asked this question, he flooded my heart with a small glimpse of Jesus’ infinite love for all the people in that room and across the whole world. I looked out at the crowd and saw the beauty and goodness of the 100-plus people gathered in that room. I began weeping. 

In that moment, I understood that Jesus was “sweating blood” not only for what he was about to endure in his Passion. I felt that the weight of the world’s pain came crashing down on Jesus in that garden. He took on the suffering of all the people who joined themselves to him, those living and yet-to-be. I perceived that the great love Jesus has for all people is like the love of a parent for a child or the love siblings have for one another. When someone we love hurts, we feel their pain, too. 

In our digitally connected world, it is overwhelming to have such ready access to witness the suffering of so many people around the globe. It’s so easy to get caught up in the chaotic news cycle that I forget Christ has taken this all on himself. I lose sight of the one who is Love Incarnate. 

The season of Lent helps us regain sight of the Lord. It is a time to silence ourselves and enter the wilderness of our hearts. There, we will find the Prince of Peace.

On Palm Sunday, we welcome Jesus as Messiah and Lord. We must never forget to celebrate Christ’s victory over death. Even as we prepare to plunge into Holy Week’s pain, misunderstanding and despair, we can genuinely wave our palms before “he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

We know death isn’t the end of the story. Jesus took on the weight of the world’s suffering to transform it. Now, we can confidently pray the words of the Eucharistic Prayer in our Masses for the dead, that we “who [are] united with your Son in a death like his, may also be one with him in his Resurrection” (Eucharistic Prayer II). 

Questions for Contemplation

  • What fills your heart with both love and sorrow? How can you invite Jesus into that experience?
  • Who are people you know who have laid down their lives for you? Can you share your appreciation with them? If not, thank the Lord in prayer for these loved ones. Ask the Lord how he sees this person or these people. Listen to his response.
  • What’s one “victory over death” that you’ve experienced? It can be overcoming an illness or healing from a past trauma. How did the Lord help you find hope in those difficult times? 

Closing Prayer

God of all people, accompany me as I draw near to others who are suffering. Open my heart so that I may welcome those who desire to accompany me in my suffering. Keep my eyes ever focused on Christ, suffering on the cross and suffering still today in our world. Amen.

Meet the Writer

Ian Peoples, SJ, entered the Jesuits in 2015. He studied philosophy and journalism at Fordham University. From 2020 to 2023, he served as a prison chaplain to incarcerated youth in the “Jewel of the Caribbean,” Belize. Ian is currently studying theology at the Boston College Clough School of Theology and Ministry. He is an avid soccer fan, a booklover and an aspiring Spanish speaker.