The disciples, whom Jesus wanted to have close to him as an element of human support in that hour of extreme distress, quickly fell asleep. Yet they heard some fragments of the words of Jesus’ prayer and they witnessed his way of acting. Both were deeply impressed on their hearts and they transmitted them to Christians for all time.
Jesus called God “Abba”. The word means – as they add – “Father”. Yet it is not the usual form of the word “father”, but rather a children’s word – an affectionate name which one would not have dared to use in speaking to God. It is the language of the one who is truly a “child”, the Son of the Father, the one who is conscious of being in communion with God, in deepest union with him.
If we ask ourselves what is most characteristic of the figure of Jesus in the Gospels, we have to say that it is his relationship with God. He is constantly in communion with God. Being with the Father is the core of his personality. Through Christ we know God truly. “No one has ever seen God”, says
. The one “who is close to the Father’s heart … has made him known” (). Now we know God as he truly is. He is Father, and this in an absolute goodness to which we can entrust ourselves. The evangelist Mark, who has preserved the memories of Saint Peter, relates that Jesus, after calling God “Abba”, went on to say: “Everything is possible for you. You can do all things” (cf. ). The one who is Goodness is at the same time Power; he is all-powerful. Power is goodness and goodness is power. We can learn this trust from Jesus’ prayer on the Saint John Mount of Olives.
Homily, Holy Thursday, 2012
Reflection – So we are journeying with the Pope through this strange event of the
. In light of Easter and its joy and triumph, we look back to what came before it, what Jesus did that won this victory. Garden of Gethsemane
We have traced the reality of darkness, of night, and what it symbolizes for us; we have asserted that Jesus enters the night of our humanity and that this changed everything about it; we have spoken of this entering as ‘abasement’, as Jesus embracing lowliness, humiliation, the degrading condition of suffering victimization—all that good stuff.
Now the Pope starts to unfold what is really going on here, and how this strange act of Jesus actually changes things. It’s all about the Father and the Son. It’s all about the Son knowing the Father, and the Father knowing and loving the Son. It’s all about Jesus bringing this communion of love, which transcends anything human, which is wholly divine and beyond us, into our human sphere.
And not just into our human sphere in some general sunny way. He brings it into the night. That is, that place the Holy Father spoke of as symbolizing non-communication, isolation, abandonment, terror. That place where our humanity is most lost, most tortured, most frightened and alone. There, Jesus calls God ‘abba’. There, Jesus expresses his utter trust and surrender-in-love to the Father. And this, even as in his humanity he trembles in fear, prays that something else might happen, sweats blood.
In other words, Jesus was not play-acting. He really enters the night—really! He felt its cold, its sting, its fear. And at the heart of that darkness, the light he shed was his trust of the Father.
And this changes everything for us. What was hopeless is no longer hopeless. Where there was futility and failure, isolation and abandonment now a light has shone, and continues to shine.
And this light, this hope, this way through the darkness and way to live in the darkness so that the night truly is as light as the day, is made available to the whole human race, to every man and woman who is alive today and who has ever lived, because this man who shivered and sweated on the ground in the garden is God and has made it so. And that’s the difference Jesus makes.