My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass. – DT 32:2 KJV
My first thought at seeing the WordPress daily prompt Drop was of the scene in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ where the drop of water falls from the sky as Jesus dies on the cross.
My second thought was of a review of the Passion written by someone that is puzzled by “the Jesus question”, wherein the question is more or less posed, “How long are people going to believe this crap?” The author notes that a giant drop of water descends and splashes to the ground next to the cross, apparently God’s reaction to the atrocity below. Why is God sad, since this was his plan all along?
Of course this was not God’s reaction – it was part of Mel Gibson’s artistic license – but if I were going to interpret that, it would be a little simpler, and maybe more mystical. That was Creation’s reaction. Paul notes that Creation is groaning in Romans 8. What was that drop in that context? A tear of joy. Gibson got it exactly right when he shows Satan screaming in panic and frustration at the moment Jesus dies. The Crucifixion is the moment of triumph. Because there was no internet back then, we didn’t get the news until Easter Sunday.
But I want to focus on the Agony in the Garden. If this is all God’s plan, and Jesus is a willing participant, then why the agony?
I am working on a book on the Mysteries of the Rosary, and am currently working on the Sorrowful Mysteries. Here are some thoughts.
What are the implications of being fully God and fully Man? Especially a man not born with Original Sin? Someone who would have been akin to Adam in the Garden, a person whose human body and human soul were in absolute harmony? Bear in mind that in Greek thought, the soul is simply the animating principle. What’s the difference between a marble statue of David, and David? David was once alive. There is no animating principle in the marble statue. And once the animating principle left David’s body, the material of his body was inanimate. It is the animating principle that is responsible for any living creature to be classified as living. The animating principle, the soul, gives the otherwise inanimate material its form, its motive power, etc. The animating principle governs the growth and development of the living being in the most foundational way, by giving it life. And by keeping it alive moment to moment.
Returning to the Agony in the Garden. Luke, the physician, tells us that Jesus sweat great drops like blood. There is a medical condition, rare though it be, called hematohidrosis, and which can be caused by several factors, including severe stress. In this condition, people have blood tinged sweat. In extreme cases, there is significant amounts of blood.
Imagine for a moment that you are a fully integrated human being with no part of you in conflict with any other part. Everything works in harmony, your diet, the amount of exercise you take, your ability to give attention, all one cohesive whole. When you feel joy, you feel all of it, no part of you distracted by some nagging thought, or physical discomfort. When you feel pain, you feel all of it, every bit of it, because that is how the body is designed. When you are sad, say at the death of Lazarus, you weep even if you are God, even if you plan to bring him back to life. Complete integrity, completely in the moment. Soul and body, material and immaterial, in perfect harmony.
Of the many emotions that we see Jesus having in the Gospel stories, worry is not one of them. He wasn’t worried in the garden of Gesthemane (the garden of the oil press…), he was in agony. Not the same thing. Worry is false, agony is real. Jesus, being fully alive, would have been in complete harmony with the real.
Imagine, if you can, being that fully alive, and knowing, fully and completely, the plight of all of humanity. Imagine willingly uniting yourself to the plight of all humanity. Of feeling, knowing. Perfect empathy. Perfect compassion, which means to suffer with so, yes, perfect suffering.
Could it be any other way than for Jesus to be in agony, united as he is in our humanity? And yet, he began his public ministry saying the the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. His saving sacrifice would serve to make Heaven accessible to all of us. Those drops of sweat, those drops of compassion and mercy – they are Reign Drops.