Once we finish contemplating Jesus' Childhood, we fast forward to the heart of His mission in the Sorrowful Mysteries. At this time, we can join with Jesus in His suffering. We can unite our sufferings with His.
The Agony in the Garden is the first Sorrowful Mystery. It calls us to meditate on Jesus’ decision to accept all that He would suffer for the redemption of the world. This mystery always draws me in. I find a particular fascination with it. You might say it is my favorite mystery.
After eating the Passover Supper with His disciples, Jesus brings them to a nearby vineyard called Gethsemani. The group is accustomed to His habit of going off by Himself for prayer as He does on this particular night.
Since Jesus is God, He knows full well what lies ahead for Him in the next day.
One of His closest companions will betray Him with a false show of affection. He will be arrested and tried, against all the rubrics of Hebrew law. The leaders of His Chosen People will subject Him to an illicit and sham trial. They will taunt and mock Him. His own people will hand Him over to foreigners for disposal. The ‘legitimate authority’ will abdicate to the pressures of the crowd. Soldiers will further humiliate and cruelly torture Him. As weak as He is, He will carry the heavy beam of the cross through dirty, dusty streets while the crowds continue to jeer Him, although a few women lament at His treatment. His wounds from the earlier beatings will be renewed as He is stripped naked. He will die in the most cruel way that mankind ever devised.
He also knows the end result of all His efforts. He knows that it is necessary for Him to take on all our sinfulness in order that Heaven be opened for us. He knows that God ultimately wants each of us to spend all of eternity with Him in Heaven. Yet throughout time, many will reject His efforts.
As a human, He feels the same dread we would when faced with such an ordeal.
So our Lord agonizes over choosing the difficult Way for our salvation. Three times He asks God, His Father, to spare Him from the intense pain and suffering. It is such intense agony, that capillaries burst, allowing blood to seep out with His sweat. Each time He prays, He resolves that He wishes, above all, to do God’s will. In the end He accepts the mission as God’s perfect will, and offers no further resistance throughout the entire process.
Meanwhile, His disciples sleep, oblivious to all that their Teacher and their Friend experiences in His prayer time. He wakes them with a warning to watch and pray. Prayer builds strength of spirit to overcome human weakness.
This dramatic story is related through the gospels: in the twenty sixth chapter of Matthew, the fourteenth chapter of Mark, and the twenty second chapter of Luke.
By this time, we finally entered the city limits of Joplin. As we rode along, I began to think about what we might find once we finally arrived at the hospital. He was already gone when Joe got to Goodman. None of us saw Arif after the accident, so we had no idea what injuries he might have. There was no information about his condition. We were directed to St. John’s to find out any information at all.
Auto accidents happen every day. Some people walk away, seemingly unscarred by the event. We could hope for this outcome, but we already knew that was not Arif’s situation, because he went to St. John’s. Some end up with aches and pains, like whiplash or various bumps and bruises. We hoped this was the worst we could expect in Arif’s case, but a mother’s mind continues to review the full range of possibilities. I knew people who needed stitches or surgery after an accident. Others spent time in the hospital with more serious injuries: broken bones, damaged organs, or coma. Some came out with some sort of brain injury. Many times, in my healing ministry, I offered advice for recovery to those who had been devastated by some of the drugs that they became dependent upon. The emergency medical care can be life saving, thank God, but sometimes, the continuing intervention can interfere with the overall health of an individual. We may need a good bit of discernment to make appropriate choices on his care. Of course, the seemingly worst case scenario would be death.
Since I have a Master’s Degree in special education, I have seen the full range of human functioning. Many people I have worked with were severely limited either physically or cognitively. I knew that these outcomes would be extremely difficult for my family, especially Joe. The impact on my other four children could also be devastating. I prayed for all of them and Joe to be able to cope with whatever the outcome might be.
I had no idea what to pray. I know that God has wisdom and insight that are way beyond mine. He would know what was best for us all. I prayed and hoped against hope that he would not be allowed to live with such serious injuries that he would not be able to fulfill his hopes and dreams. But in the end, my prayer resolved: “Lord, You alone have the wisdom. Your will be done.” It was the only prayer I could bring myself to pray for days. I didn’t even know if I would be able to handle any number of the possible outcomes.
At this point, I was given a message: “You have everything you need to deal with this situation.”
It was not a voice, it was just a sense of resolve. Although I had no idea what it meant, I knew it was sent as a comfort.
I did not have much time to ponder. Jo’s cell phone rang.
How does this contraption work?
It was Mary, a Founding Mother of our home school group.
Jo called her asking for prayers. Her family felt close to Arif as he helped them move the previous summer. She wanted to make sure we knew that her family was praying for Arif. If there was anything we needed, be sure to let them know.
I filed that away for later. Who knew what we might need later.
By the time I finished talking with Mary, we arrived at the hospital. We would finish the Rosary later. When we had some idea of what we were praying for, there would be ample opportunity to follow Christ through His Passion and Death, and hopefully be able to rejoice in His Resurrection.
Meanwhile, our only – our best – prayer was: “Thy will be done!”