We are following the footsteps of Christ during the days of his Passion: from the betrayal grotto, to the sacred garden to the rock where Jesus gives his entire self to the Father.
We are in Gethsemane at the grotto also referred to as the Apostles’ cave or the betrayal grotto.
This is the oil mill that comes from the Aramaic and Hebrew “gad shemanim”
Jesus comes here often.
Visiting these places for us is a bit like walking on tiptoe in these areas and on this rock that has been filled with so many prayers and the visits of so many pilgrims, for more than 2000 years.
We should in some ways be like Moses; we must take off our shoes and enter barefoot into this place, because the Gospels tell us that this is the place where the Lord used to come… (Lk 21,37)
So, this is the place where Jesus spends his time; this is the place where Jesus lives out his day-to-day life; this is the place where Jesus sleeps, rests and lives out the informality of his life but this is especially the place where he lives out his Passion.
And from the grotto you can get to this garden here, which is just a few steps away…
And the evangelist tells us how Jesus took Peter, James and John with him, and brought them here, to this garden, among these olive trees. We must find a way to listen to these things that still bear witness to that request that the Apostles heard: “Remain here and keep watch with me.”” (Mt 26,38).
=And something strange happens here: Jesus approaches the Apostles and is transfigured.
The Master, the one who healed the blind; the one who raised Lazarus… now is suffering, and is in distress; he is sad… and everyone notices it… and he almost shows the need for the closeness [of other people.]
It is the time of trial, and the time of temptation. It is the time when, the Evangelist said, it was nighttime (Jn 13,30).
And right here, in this very garden where Jesus comes and goes, where he moves a stone’s throw away from the apostles, as the Evangelist tells us (Lk 22, 41), asking them to be close to him in prayer and he seems to feel within himself the weakness of being fully human, stating that the flesh is weak, and the spirit is willing… pray, lest you enter into temptation (Lk 22,46).
And twice he comes and goes and comes back a third time. The third time, in a respectful silence, finds his[Apostles] sleeping .. (Mt 26: 43-44)
He leaves them and goes away again to pray… something that still moves people today and that tells about Jesus’ actions alone alone in that affectionate prayer to the Father.
And from the garden we are just a stone’s throw away here to come see this rock. It is this rock that tells us about Jesus’ coming here and it tells us about his prayer to the Father… and it was an intense prayer… here the Evangelists tell us that Jesus enters into the fight to the point that his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. Here Jesus gives all of himself to the Father, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22: 41-42).
This is how Gethsemane has become the memorial of the Lord’s Passion, the place where Jesus spent his offering up of himself, and the place where he offers himself and his suffering lovingly.
And it is here that the liturgy solemnly expresses everything that happened. The deacon, while singing the passion that talks about the Lord’s sweat of blood, takes the Gospel and places it on this rock and kisses the rock and then goes back to singing.
In this place where the Lord offered himself; in this place where his prayer became Passion; in this place where he abandoned everything of himself, he offered himself up… why do we need to kiss [this rock]? Because he kissed all of humanity once and for all….