A former member of a crowd who, having been called apart by Jesus, has chosen to follow him to “where he lives,” to welcome Jesus as Messiah, who have faith enough to open their minds and hearts wholly to his presence and influence.

Christ wants disciples for today. Where shall he find them?  Is it possible that it could be from among ourselves?  What about those of us who have lived an adult life responsibly?  Who have suffered the trials of rearing a family, of overwork, of sickness, of loneliness and loss?  Of betrayal, persecution?  We have the raw material for discipleship.

A disciple of Jesus has a passion for simply abiding in the company of Jesus, they need continually to be with him, and eventually, to act in him and through him. Jesus invites the disciple to follow him to a place set apart.

By going toward him we are entrusting ourselves fully into his creating and molding hands. He intends to make us anew, according to his own heart, a heart capable of feeling, thinking, and loving like God himself.  By going to him we are willingly moving into a great unknown, we are taking a great risk.

Being good friends of Christ does not mean we are always at our best.  But we are ready to begin again. And again.  And yet, again.

Reflection on the Agonia as icon for Friends of Carmel

From The Passion and the Cross by Ronald Rolheiser

It’s significant that this agony should take place in a garden.  In archetypal literature, a garden is …the place of delight, the place of love the place to drink wine, the place where lovers meet in the moonlight, the place of intimacy…

So, it’s no accident that Jesus ends up having to sweat blood in a garden.  And it’s precisely as a lover that he’s in agony there.  It is Jesus the lover—the one who calls us to intimacy and delight with him who is alone, misunderstood, isolated, without support.  His suffering is as a lover. Jesus already anticipates the hatred, the brutalization, the murder.

Agonia means an ordeal that an athlete experiences as he anticipates his contest.  It was a way of working up sweat to prepare oneself to overcome any obstacles.

The disciples are in the forefront of this woodcut to help us identify with them. How will we respond to Jesus ordeal?  Will we fall asleep or tune in?  How can we move from a place of self-pampering to a place of self-sacrifice? From living in fear to acting in courage?  From cringing before the unknown to taking the leap of faith, without first, like Jesus in Gethsemane, readying ourselves through a certain agonia, that is, undergoing a painful sweat that comes from facing what will be asked of us if we continue to live the truth. We, too, must learn to die before we die.  We must prepare ourselves like Oscar Romero, who was by nature timid, but who let the poor baptize him with strength so that he was no longer afraid to speak the truth no matter what.

We may be sincere and good but we’re also fearful-of pain, of losing loved ones, of misunderstanding or opposition, of sickness, or shame, of discomfort of all kinds, of death.  Therefore, we need to train like an athlete to give our lives away in real courage.  Training means taking time each day for strengthening exercises.

Icon created by a member of Friends of Carmel

A word from the creator of the woodblock print titled ‘The Agony’ (Agonia)

As an Artist, spiritual places are so inspirational for my work.  On a trip to the Holy Land in September 2014, I visited many sacred sites, and was greatly moved on this journey of ‘Walking in the footsteps of Jesus’.

A woodblock print, carved from Asian Birch and printed on Japanese paper, measuring 35×31 cm, in Black watercolor.  It was alongside two similar woodblocks prints ‘Baptism’ (Baptismus) and ‘Calvary'(Calvarium).

The Artist, Patricia Curran Mulligan, is a regular visitor to Holy Hill Hermitage, Skreen, Co Sligo and presented a copy of this limited edition print ‘The Agony’ to hang in this sacred space.