Stay Here with Me

Agony in the Garden - Gethsemane - Image by Waiting For The Word under CC BY 2.0 (cropped)

There is a beautiful Taizé hymn inspired by Jesus’ words in the Garden of Gethsemane, with the lyrics: “Stay with me, remain here with me; watch and pray.” This song lends itself to the Ignatian practice of unwrapping Scripture passages by imagining oneself within the passage. For instance:

I imagine myself having left the Passover table with the rest of the disciples. I am confused and overwhelmed by everything that has just happened. Jesus says he will be leaving us. He took the bread and wine and said it is his Body and Blood, “the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” What does all of this mean? And what kind of a Master washes his followers’ feet? It’s always the other way around. He said, “Love each other as I have loved you.” What kind of love is this?

These thoughts swirl around in my head as we all walk together. We make our way to a garden called Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Jesus is so upset. He asks us to stay with him, to stay awake and pray. We sit down under some olive trees as he goes just a little further up, a stone’s throw away. He falls on his face on the ground and says, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.” He is shaking because he so agitated. I have never seen him so upset. He wipes his brow. It is a hot evening, but it almost looks like he is sweating blood. Seeing Jesus like this pains me to the heart. I want to go to him and comfort him, but he has asked us to keep watch, so I just close my eyes and pray. The night air is heavy, and I feel myself drifting off to sleep.

As I reflect on my experience in prayer, it strikes me that Jesus asks his disciples to accompany him that evening to Gethsemane. We see in Scripture that Jesus would often go off to pray alone. Yet, on this night, this night of his most profound suffering, he wants the company of his friends.

This is striking because he is about to die for these friends—and, indeed, for all of humanity. From a human perspective, it is unusual for someone who is about to be condemned to death for a crime he didn’t commit to ask the person who actually committed the crime to come and be with him. The human instinct would more likely be to push that person away and not to want to see that person at all.

Jesus, though, while fully human, is also God. And our God is a God of relationship. He came to redeem us and he loves us, personally, throughout the process of redemption. He doesn’t push us away—ever—even when our human sense of justice would deem it justifiable. At Gethsemane, Jesus demonstrated that with God’s justice, love is the overriding factor. His love remains at all times, even when we don’t expect it and when we know that we don’t deserve it. And God requests us to remain near; God desires our presence.

This evening, we enter into the Paschal Triduum, the summit of the liturgical year. We will be walking together through the events of Christ’s final days on earth. As you recall these events, place yourself in the Scripture passages each day. Observe how your experience of the passage affects you and what feelings arise within as you watch the scene unfold.

If you were at Gethsemane with Jesus that night, and he asked you to stay there with him, would you?

Think of Jesus walking with the Cross, looking at you, requesting your presence.

Think of Jesus on the Cross, requesting you near him.

Stay here with me, remain here with me.

Feel that Love, looking at you. Tenderly.

How will you respond?

Image by Waiting For The Word under CC BY 2.0 (cropped).

About Rebecca Ruiz 35 Articles
Rebecca Ruiz holds a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and an M.A. from Tufts University. She has worked as an ethnomusicologist, composer, and writer, in academia, and, for the past 14 years, in domestic refugee resettlement in the Diocese of Arlington, VA. She and her husband have two children and live in the Washington, DC metro area. She strives, as St. Ignatius taught, to see God in all things and do “all things for the greater glory of God.”
Contact: Website

20 Comments on Stay Here with Me

  1. Thank you for the beautiful taize and inspiring music. I have listened many times throughout the day as it is so comforting. God Bless your work.

  2. Very beautiful and moving.I think that l could stay and remain with Jesus, but l doudt that l would have the strength and courage to do anything else.l would be letting Jesus down l know , and l am dissapointed about that.

  3. Rebecca this is so helpful. Your reflection will stay with me and I will let it guide me through the Triduum- and beyond Easter Sunday. Thank you so much -an immense blessing.

    • Hi Jenny,
      Thank you for reading and for your comments. I’m so glad. I hope you have a blessed Triduum and Joyful Easter!

  4. Thank you for letting me share this Rebecca. It’s a wonderful way to take five minutes as I prepare for this evening. God Bless

    • Hi Therese,
      Yes, the lyrics always pull at me heartstrings no matter how many times I hear them. I hope you have a blessed Triduum and Joyful Easter!

    • Hi Pat,
      Ignatian Spirituality has a way of really pulling one into closer relationship with God. I am so glad you are finding it effective. I hope you have a blessed Triduum and Joyful Easter!

  5. Thanks Rebecca for your reflection on Stay Here With Me. It reminds me of seeing Jesus in the lonely, the sick, the miserable, and all the needy around me, and in serving those people I will find the love of God.

    • Hi Phuong,
      Yes, it is so true. How often Jesus calls to us from the sick, lonely, and needy – asking us to remain with Him. It is impossible to remain unaffected by suffering when we see Christ in everyone we meet.
      I hope you have a blessed Triduum and Joyful Easter!

  6. This devotion was an immense blessing. The combined text and the music are powerful reminders of how God longs for me to be near him.

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