Thursday, March 24, 2016

If It Be Possible ... Nevertheless

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”  And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”  And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”  (Mt 26:36-39)

His words “if it be possible” referred not only to God’s power but also to his justice.  As to God’s power, whatever is just or unjust is possible.  As to his justice, which is not only powerful but also just, not everything is possible—only that which is just.

Origen, Commentary on Matthew 95

By saying then, “If it be possible, let it pass from me,” he showed his true humanity.  But by saying, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as you will,” he showed his virtue and self-command.  This too teaches us, even when nature pulls us back, to follow God.  In order to make clear that he is truly God and truly human, words alone would not suffice.  Deeds were needed.  So he joined deeds with words in order that even those who have been highly contentious may believe that he both became man and died.  Admittedly, some still do not believe that this was so.  But many more would have been unable to have believed if his face had not been seen at Gethsemane.  See in how many ways he shows the reality of the incarnation.  He demonstrates both by what he speaks and by what he suffers.

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew 83.1

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