In the Basilica of the Agony for the second Lenten pilgrimage

The second step of the Lenten pilgrimage for the Franciscan friars of the Custody in the places of the Passion: after mass at the Dominus Flevit last week, on March 7, a celebration took place at the Basilica of Agony at Gethsemane. In the church built at the foot of the Mount of Olives, the place where Jesus prayed intensely and suffered before his arrest in the Garden of Olives, is commemorated. Around the rock on which Jesus prostrated himself in anguish (which today is in the area of the apse), the Franciscan friars were seated wearing red liturgical garments, the color of the Passion.

After Vespers, the readings were proclaimed. Fr. Luigi Epicoco, professor at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, said the homily, as he had during last week’s pilgrimage. The priest explained that, while at the Dominus Flevit, what made us reflect deeply was the word “weep,” in this church, the focus should be on the word “anguish,” “that background of sadness,” experienced by Jesus that we all experience during hard times. “There is a conflict within us: we do not want to die,” said Fr. Luigi, and this inner conflict and anguish are the same ones that Jesus experienced. At Gethsemane, Jesus represents all of our humanity. “Being a Christian means being human, and being human means making oneself needy of friends.” In the moment of the Passion, Jesus wants his friends to be near him, but he experiences profound solitude because they fall asleep. “Jesus was the loneliest,” concluded Fr. Luigi Epicoco, “but from that moment on, from that night on, no one can say they are alone [any longer].”

The mass was presided over by the Custodial Vicar, Br. Dobromir Jasztal, and it was concelebrated by many friars of the Custody. “I thank everyone for coming here, on one of these pilgrimages that are characteristic of the Holy Land, said the guardian of the monastery in Gethsemane, Br. Benito José Choque, at the end of the celebration. “These appointments help us to love the Lord more and to follow him, who first loved us, in his own footsteps.”

The next Lenten pilgrimages in the Holy Land are scheduled on:
Wednesday, March 14: Flagellation, 5:00 p.m. solemn mass
Thursday, March 15: Bethany, 6:30 a.m. mass at the tomb, 7:30 a.m. mass at the church
Wednesday, March 21: Lithostrotos, 5:00 p.m. solemn mass

Beatrice Guarrera