For centuries, Christians have struggled with the reality of Jesus as both fully human and fully divine. The last pope to be martyred, Martin I, was killed because he stood up to the emperor, who accepted Jesus’ complete divinity, but not his complete humanity. In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ Passion, we see the Son’s humanity as he speaks to God the Father about the suffering to come. He prays, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26: 39b)
We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.For by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.
We hear in his words the echo of the prayer Jesus taught his disciples (Matthew 6:9-13). He told them, “Pray, then in this way,” and teaches them what we know as The Our Father, or The Lord’s Prayer. Early in the prayer we hear, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
We are comfortable with Jesus, the Rabbi, teaching his disciples, and us, how to pray. But Matthew forces us to watch Jesus do what he teaches, act on what he has told others to do. It is the hardest test any teacher, any shepherd, any parent will face.
And Jesus prays knowing the answer to his request may well be, “No.”
He does not hide his fear from the Father. He is not ashamed of his pain, nor does he welcome future pain. Jesus is not a super hero; he is a man, with the natural and good desire to avoid suffering, for himself and for others. But he is a man in full communion with the Father, accepting of and ready to follow the Father’s will, whatever that may be and wherever it may lead.
When Adam and Eve heard the Father’s, “No,” they went searching to become themselves gods. Their break with God broke creation itself and set us on a dark path. Jesus’ trust in God, his willingness as a man to follow God, even to the cross, heals what Adam has destroyed.
We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
For by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.