[continued from yesterday]
...Lastly, there is the hour of greatest trouble, that which preceded and culminated in the Agony in the Garden. The Evangelists vie with each other in looking for words by which to express it.
"He began to be sorrowful and to be sad," says one.
"He began to fear and to be heavy," says. another.
"Being in an agony, he prayed the longer," says the third; and all record His words:
"My soul is sorrowful even unto death."
Nor do even these English words convey the full sense of amazement and depression that is contained in the Greek original.
He is so troubled that He seems to be unable to help Himself; He seeks support from others - from His disciples, and they fail Him, from His Father, and at first it seems to be long in coming, from an angel, who does not remove the trouble, but brings Him the support He needs.
And why is He so troubled? Because of "the chalice," whatever that may mean. We cannot hope to know all; but we can draw out some few ingredients. He was troubled because He had been, and yet would be, rejected. He was troubled because He loved so much those who had rejected Him. Perhaps most of all He was weighed down by the burden of their sins, which He had taken upon Himself as though they were His own.
So has the burden of the evil-doing of mankind oppressed the hearts and souls of men who have recognised it - the popes in all ages, the saints whose lot it has been to rule, the weary priest in our crowded cities, all we may say who have been given the care of others.
Of all the troubles of man perhaps none more conduces to indignation; perhaps there is none which tempts us more to steel our hearts, and to leave man to his self-inflicted doom Yet when the temptation is upon us it is well to remember that just this trouble, harrowing as it is, death-dealing to our own spiritual peace of mind as it is, nevertheless brings us nearer to Our Lord in his worst moments than does any other prayer or sacrifice.
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918