The other day my daughter was eating dinner on my lap and I caught a whiff of a disturbing stench. Being the father of two kids below age three, these aromas aren’t normally a surprise, but this one was. I checked my girl’s diaper, sniffed her sweaty head, and checked her arm pits. Nothing outside of the norm.
Then I thought, maybe it is me…
When one sweats, it is because their body temperature has risen too high. The body’s natural defense against overheating is to release liquid though the pours of the part of the body that is overheated. This sweat acts as a refresher in that it absorbs the heat and provides the body with a cooler temperature. I can safely say that the majority of Americans are quite overheated as this heatwave continues to roll on.
So when Jesus was praying in the Garden the night when He was betrayed, His body was overheated. This heat was not caused by an exertion of force. In fact, it was more likely that at the hour of His prayer, the temperature was probably quite cool. I would venture to say that He was not running a marathon inside the Garden. In fact, the Bible tells us He was “prostrate” and very likely immobile on the floor, during the cool nighttime hours. (Matthew 26: 39)
So what caused this immobile man to sweat that night during His prayer? Some say it was the pure stress and they might be correct. But, could it be possible that, like the transfiguration, Jesus, in this intimate conversation with His Father, was transfiguring Himself once again into the blazing fire, the heat that other Biblical authors refer to when they speak of the Cherubim angels (Ezekiel 1:13), or the Holy Spirit (Revelation 4:5) or even God Himself (Exodus 3:2)? Could it be possible that, because He sweat blood instead of regular sweat, He was bathing Himself in the purifying “blood of the lamb” (Revelation 12:11) prior to the ultimate sacrifice on the cross? Could this blood have anything to do with “spiritual overheating of the soul” that came to save the earth? Could this be the spiritual refreshment just as sweat is physical refreshment?
I believe that this “sweating of blood” is the Spiritual defense against the overheating of a perfect soul. I believe that this blood was an effect of the raging fire of burning love that dwelled inside the carnal body of God. I believe that this serene soul lives within those today who are able to hear the sound of His resurrected voice when He says “I came to set the earth on fire. How I wish it were already burning!” (Luke 12:49)
Finally, I believe that when we drink this blood at mass, we too cover ourselves in the sweat of our souls so that they might be cooled down from the temptations of this world. Better yet, this blood transfigures our souls to become more like the raging fire of burning love for others. When we are on fire and actively participating in the Will of God, it is then that we become Jesus for others in the most profound way: by accepting the Eucharist we become the fire!
It turns out, the combination of my daughter and I after a day of playing outside in the humidity was the source of the foul stench. That just made me think about Jesus’ sweat.
I hope that both my daughter and I can stink like God too.