“Keep Watch”

Garden of Gethsemane(from The Faith: Reflections on the truths of the Apostles’ Creed from the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI)

Having the left the upper room, [Jesus] withdrew to pray, alone before the Father [in the Garden of Gethsemane]. At that moment of deep communion the Gospels recount that Jesus experienced great anguish, such acute suffering that it made Him sweat blood (see Mt 26:38)

In the knowledge of His imminent death on the Cross, He felt immense anguish at the closeness of death. In this situation an element appeared that was of great importance to the whole Church. Jesus said to his followers, “Stay here and keep watch.”

This appeal for vigilance concerns precisely this moment of anguish, of threats, in which the traitor was to arrive, but it also concerns the whole history of the Church. It is a permanent message for every era because the disciples’ drowsiness was not just a problem at that moment, but is a problem for the whole of history.

The question is this: In what does this apathy consist? What would the watchfulness to which the Lord invites us consist of?

I would say that the disciples’ sleepiness in the course of history is a certain insensitiveness of the soul with regard to the power of evil, an insensibility to all the evil in the world. We do not wish to be unduly disturbed by these things; we prefer to forget them. We think that perhaps, after all, it will not be so serious, and we forget.

Moreover, it is not only insensibility to evil, when we should be watchful in order to do good, to fight for the force of goodness. Rather it is an insensibility to God: This is our true sleepiness, this insensibility to God’s presence that also makes us insensible to evil. We are not aware of God – He would disturb us – hence we are naturally not aware of the force of evil and continue on the path of our own convenience.

General Audience, April, 2011

Source:Pope Benedict XVI, compiled by Thigpen, P. (2013) The Faith: Reflections on the truths of the  Apostles’ Creed from the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI. Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor

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