WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK
The Charity of the Passion.
He loved me, and gave Himself for me. (Galat. ii. 20.)
1. The virtue that impresses us the most in the Passion of Christ is the wondrous charity that made it a joy to the Son of God to endure the Cross and despise the shame for us sinners. Behold how He loved us! If He loved us with such a love as to make Him willing to endure His Sacred Passion for us, the least we can do is to show our gratitude by loving others, and showing charity to them for His sake.
2. But our Lord manifested in His Passion a special form of charity which is not possible to human nature without the help of God. He loved His enemies, and loved them so dearly, that for them He shed the last drop of His Precious Blood. It is easy to love our friends, but to love our enemies is a hard task. Yet our Lord enjoined it on us when He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Do I carry out this command? or do I nurse petty spite and ill-will?
3. What are the characteristics of the love which our Lord showed to us poor sinners? (1) It was a generous love, anxious to sacrifice itself to the uttermost for those He loved. (2) It was a disinterested love; what had He to gain from us? Could we give Him anything that He had not before? (3) It was an efficacious love, which was not satisfied with words, but manifested itself in actions sufficient to move the hardest heart to love Him who had so loved us.
Mary’s grief at meeting Jesus.
From The Foot of the Cross, pp. 267—269, by Father Faber.
There was another grief in this dolor, which was new to our Lady, and caused in her heart in an incomparable degree the acute pain which the sight of sacrilege causes to the Saints. She saw Him in the hands of others who could touch Him and come near Him, while she was kept far off. How she longed to wipe the blood from His face with her veil, to part His tangled hair, to remove with lightest touch that cruel crown, to lift the Cross off His shoulders, and see whether her broken heart would not give her superhuman strength to carry it for Him! O there were countless ministries in which a mother’s hand was needed by that dear Victim of our sins!
And think of the plenitude of the rights she had over Him, more than any mother over any son since the world began! He had acknowledged them Himself. He had made her assert them openly in the Temple. But these men knew no more of the Mother of God, than poor heretics do. Moreover they, who had trampled her Son underfoot, would have made but little scruple of her rights. In the times of Bethlehem and Egypt it had been her joy to touch Him, in the performance of her maternal office. Her love had risen so high, that it could find no vent except in breathless reverence, and it was the touch of His Sacred Body which hushed her soul with that thrill of reverence.
Saints at the altar have exulted with the Blessed Sacrament in their hands, till they rose up from the predella in the light air, and swayed to and fro, like a bough in summer, with the palpitations of their ecstasy.
How many times must we multiply that joy to reach Mary’s! She had only not grudged Joseph the embraces of her Child, because she loved him with the holiest transports of conjugal affection, and best satisfied her love by giving him his turn with Jesus. The novelty had never worn off. The joy had never become thinner from use. The reverence only grew more reverent from custom. The thought of it came back to her now, and the waves of grief beat up against her heart as if they would have washed it away. She had seen the filthy hands of the public executioner grasping His neck and shoulder. She had seen the miry foot of some sinful soldier spurning His bruised flesh. She had seen them brutally knock the wooden Cross against His blessed Head, and drive the spikes of the thorns still further in.
St. Catherine of Genoa had to be supported by God lest she should die when He showed her in vision the real malice of a venial sin. What if, with her eyes thus spiritually couched, she had beheld the malice which can trample the Blessed Sacrament underfoot in the sewers of the street! The love of a whole Christian land will rise with one emotion to make reparation for a sacrilege against the Blessed Sacrament. They, who have been but too indifferent to their own sins, will then afflict themselves with fasting, and impair their own comforts by abundant alms. It is the instinct of faith’s loyalty, and of the love which lies in reality, however appearances may be against it, at the bottom of every believing heart. In truth the feeling of sacrilege is like bodily pain. It is as if we were being cruelly handled ourselves. Holy people, both religious and seculars, have offered their lives to God in reparation of a sacrilege, and have rejoiced when He deigned to accept the offering.
To die for the Blessed Sacrament — that would be a sweet end, glorious also, but more sweet than glorious, because it would so satisfy our love! But the sacrilege that day in the streets of Jerusalem! Mary’s woe is simply unimaginable. She would have died a thousand deaths to have made reparation. Ah but, dearest Mother! thou must live, which to thee is worse far than death, and thy life must be thy reparation! All the evils which others find in death, thou findest in life, and many more beside. To thee it would be as great a joy, as all the seven dolors all together were a sorrow, if thou mightest not outlive three o’clock that Friday afternoon. But there is a bar between thee and death, a whole omnipotence. So thou must be contented, as thou ever art, and envy the accepted thief, and for our sakes consent to live!
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