The Purpose of this Place
“Remain here, and stay awake with me, stay awake and pray””
Of all the Holy Places that one can visit only a few have the peculiarity of offering pilgrims a break, silence and prayer. Among these ones the most striking, charming and unique one is Gethsemane: a Place of Gospel memory. Here our Lord invited his disciples to remain with Him, closely at His side, and pray: “Remain here, and stay awake with me (…) stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial!” (Mt 26,38.41). Our Hermitage was established with the specific purpose of staying within the boundaries of love that the Lord revealed during his lifetime and above all in his Passion.
We are located inside a Garden, where the encounter, the wait, the anxiety and worries of the groom awaiting his bride take place, which is also referred to and reported in different parts of the Bible (see Song 2,9). This Place tells about God’s unfathomable love for each one of his Children. Today we continue feeling His presence calling and talking to all of mankind and particularly asking each one of us with loving maternal and paternal care: “Where are you?” (Gen 3,9).
The Passion sustained by Jesus Christ in Gethsemane tells about the huge, unfathomable and impossible to comprehend love of God for all humankind. In His Passion the Lord experiences what we can define as a “theological blend”, because in this Place He starts accomplishing the work that distinguished the path of His entire earthly life. Here, as an anticipation of the divine plan, Jesus undertakes the final combat to such an extent that He sweats drops of blood, while He is turning his attention to darkness, nonsense, failure and ultimately death.
And yet in Gethsemane Jesus won’t let himself be guided by darkness, nonsense or His instinct – here He was terribly afflicted, anguished and was feeling dread and loneliness – and won’t be distracted or be led astray by His compatriots either; on the contrary, He transfigures darkness by penetrating into it, and His centre of attention will always remain the same, that is the thing that He has always profoundly wished and loved to pursue, deep down His conscience: the Father’s will.
This is God’s Passion for humankind, which was revealed and made known since the beginning…when a dim soft Light appeared illuminating the walls of a small common house, or when in the quiet and tranquil town of Nazareth the same Light would speak surrounded by the smell of big rough logs and the faces of peasants, farmers and country people… or here, in the pitch darkness of this Garden, when the Good King lowered Himself to walk His last steps into human fatigue, His breath taking breaths of blood sweat, here where He gave Himself up completely to death - becoming its Poison -, Jesus, the Royal King, and yet the One who stooped to hold his worn out and asleep Children in His arms, to take them to a rock solid custody of life and salvation: Home.
This is how Jesus fulfilled the Father’s Love Plan which had begun with the old Covenant.