There is a third interpretation as to how Christ's Gethsemane prayer was answered. This solution maintains that Jesus prayed to be saved from death (if such was the Father's will, of course) and that the Father heard Jesus' prayer and answered it—not by saving Jesus from death, but out from death; that is, by raising him from death on Easter Sunday. This interpretation holds that Jesus asked the prevention of his death but that the Father sent him instead a “cure” of his death: "Death has been swallowed up in victory" (l Cor 15:54; Is 25:8). It is as if someone who is slowly going blind asks for a cure but still goes blind, only to be miraculously healed of blindness later - thus giving greater glory to God by a more dramatic miracle.
This interesting interpretation, like the first two, discussed in previous articles, also suggests an approach for how we might carry our cross. We may pray for relief from suffering and find that God seems not to answer our prayer. Perhaps we are praying a for healing of terminal cancer for ourselves or for a loved one and find that death comes ineluctably. To a worldling, that looks like an unanswered prayer. But death itself is the most beautiful of all healings, when we find life on the other side indescribably better than on this side. "O death, your sentence is welcome to the man who is in need and whose strength fails (Sir 41:3). While death is a beautiful healing that is meant to catapult us into the arms of God, our subsequent resurrection of the body (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52) is a further healing. Then our glorified body is united with our soul (see John 5:29), as we see in Jesus, the first of those to be "cured" of death, or resurrected (see 1 Corinthians 15-20). Every Cross of ours is meant to point to an open tomb, "for the same God who brought Jesus back from death will also bring us back to life again with Jesus" (2 Cor 4:14).
In all our sufferings we must never lose sight Of what might lie ahead, in God's plan. We should seek the completing of God's will more than an immediate response to our needs. "Those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue doing good" (1 Pt 4:19). God does not seem to be answering your prayers for a certain job? He may have a better job lined up for you weeks or months from now—one in which you will meet your future spouse perhaps, or lead a fellow worker to the Lord, or avoid a serious injury you might have sustained on the job you are praying for now. "'My ways are not your ways,' declares the Lord" (Is 55:8). And so your apparently unanswered prayer for God to "take away the cup" may ultimately be answered in another way, just as Jesus' resurrection was possibly the answer to his prayer for deliverance from imminent death.
And so these three "solutions", we have been discussing in this and previous articles, to the question of how Jesus' Gethsemane prayer was answered can provide a perspective on how we can carry our cross in a Christlike way. Whichever way or combination of ways you may choose, remember that Jesus suffers not just for us (see Matthew 8:17) but also with us (see 1 Peter 4:13). In a way, this makes Jesus Our Simon of Cyrene who helps us to carry our cross. In this light, our suffering takes on the nature of a privilege.
This excerpt is from the book The Art of Loving God by John H. Hampsch, C.M.F., originally published by Servant Publications, 1995. This and other of Fr. Hampsch's books and audio/visual materials can be purchased from Claretian Teaching Ministry, 20610 Manhattan Pl, #120, Torrance, CA 90501-1863. Phone 1-310-782-6408.