The three Apostles – Peter, James, and John – were asleep [in Gethsemane], but they awoke intermittently and heard the refrain of this prayer of the Lord: “Not my will, but your will be done.” What is this will of mine, what is this will of yours, of which the Lord speaks?
“My will” is that He should not die, that He be spared this cup of suffering. It is the human will, human nature; and Christ felt, with the whole awareness of His being, His life, the abyss of death, the terror of nothingness, the threat of suffering. Moreover, He was even more acutely aware of the abyss of evil than are we who have a natural aversion to death, a natural fear of death.
Together with death, He felt the whole of humanity’s suffering. He felt that this was the cup He was obliged to drink, that He himself had to drink in order to accept the evil of the world, all that is terrible, the aversion to God, the whole weight of sin.
And we can understand that before this reality, the cruelty of which He fully perceived, Jesus, with His human soul, was terrified: My will would be not to drink the cup, but My will is subordinate to Your will, to the will of God, to the will of the Father, which is also the true will of the Son. And thus in this prayer Jesus transformed His natural repugnance, His aversion to the cup and to His mission to die for us. He transformed His own natural will into God’s will, into a “yes” to God’s will.
Man of himself is tempted to oppose God’s will, to seek to do his own will, to feel free only if he is autonomous. He sets his own autonomy against … obeying God’s will. This is the whole drama of humanity.
But in truth, this autonomy is mistaken, and entry into God’s will is not opposition to the self. It is not a form of slavery that violates my will, but rather means entering into truth and love, into goodness.
And Jesus draws our will – which opposes God’s will, which seeks autonomy – upwards, towards God’s will. This is the drama of our redemption, that Jesus should uplift our will, our total aversion to God’s will and our aversion to death and sin, and unite it with the Father’s will: “Not my will but yours.”
In this transformation of “no” into “yes,” in this insertion of the creaturely will into the will of the Father, He transforms humanity and redeems us. And He invites us to be part of His movement: to emerge from our “no” and to enter into the “yes” of the Son. My will exists, but the will of the Father is crucial, because it is truth and love.
General Audience, April 20, 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