REFLECTIONS AND AFFECTIONS ON THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST
It is a pleasing thing to see a person beloved by some great man, and more so if the latter has the power of raising him to some great fortune; but how much more sweet and pleasing must it be to us to see ourselves beloved by God, Who can raise us up to an eternity of happiness? Under the Old Law men might have doubted whether God loved them with a tender love; but after having seen Him shed His Blood on an infamous gibbet and die for us, how can we doubt His loving us with infinite tenderness and affection? O my soul, behold now thy Jesus, hanging from the Cross, all covered with Wounds! Behold how, by these Wounds, He proves to Thee the love of His enamoured Heart: “The secrets of His Heart are revealed through the Wounds of His Body,” says St. Bernard. My dearest Jesus, it does indeed afflict me to see Thee dying with such dreadful suffering upon an ignominious tree; but at the same time I am greatly consoled and inflamed with love for Thee, when I see in these sacred Wounds the love that Thou bearest me. O heavenly Seraphs, what do you think of the love of my God, who loved me and delivered himself for me (Gal. ii. 20)?
St. Paul says that when the Gentiles heard it preached that Jesus was crucified for the love of men, they thought it such nonsense that they could not believe it. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling-block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness. (1 Cor. i. 23). And how is it possible, said they, to believe that an omnipotent God, Who wants nothing in order to be perfectly happy as He is, would choose to become Man and die on a Cross to save men? This would be the same, said they, as to believe that a God had become mad for love of men. But unto the Gentiles foolishness. And thus they refused to believe it. But faith teaches us that Jesus has really undertaken and accomplished this great work of Redemption which the Gentiles esteemed and called folly. “We have seen,” says St. Laurence Justinian, “Eternal Wisdom, the Only-begotten of God, become as it were a fool through the excessive love He bears man.” Yes, adds Cardinal Hugo, for it seemed nothing but a folly that a God should choose to die for men: “It seemed a folly that God should die for the salvation of men.”
The Blessed Giacopone, who in this world had been a man of letters, and afterwards became a Franciscan, seemed to have become mad through the love that he bore to Jesus Christ. One day Jesus appeared to him and said: “Giacopone, why do you commit these follies?” “Why?” he answered. “Because You have taught them to me. If I am mad,” said he, “You have been more mad than me, in that You have died for me. I am a fool, for Thou hast been a greater fool.” Thus also St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, being in an ecstasy, exclaimed, “O God of love! O God of love! The love that Thou bearest to creatures, O my Jesus, is too great indeed.” And one day, when rapt out of herself, she took an image of the Crucified One, and began running about the monastery, crying, “O Love! Love! I shall never rest, my God, from calling Thee Love.” Then, turning to the Religious, she said, “Do you not know, my dear sisters, that Jesus Christ is nothing but love? He is even mad with love, and I will go on saying it continually.” And she added that she wished she could be heard by the whole universe when she called Jesus “Love,” in order that the love of Jesus might be known and loved by all. And she sometimes even began to ring the bell, in order that all the people in the world should come (as she desired, if it had been possible) to love her Jesus.
Yes, my sweetest Redeemer, permit me to say so, this Thy spouse was indeed right when she called Thee mad with love. And does it not indeed seem a folly that Thou shouldst choose to die for love of me, for such an ungrateful worm as I am, and whose offences Thou didst foresee, as well as the infidelities of which I should be guilty? But if Thou, my God, art thus become mad, as it were, for the love of me, how is it that I do not become mad for the love of a God? When I have seen Thee crucified and dead for me, how is it that I can think of any other than Thee? Yes, O my Lord, my Sovereign Good, more worthy of love than every other good, I love Thee more than myself. I promise for the future to love none other but Thee, and to think constantly on the love Thou hast shown me by dying in the midst of so many sufferings for me.
O Scourges, O Thorns, O Nails, O Cross, O Wounds, O sufferings, O death of my Saviour, you irresistibly constrain me to love Him Who has loved me so much! O Incarnate Word, O loving God, my soul is enamoured of Thee! I would fain love Thee so much, that I should find no pleasure but in pleasing Thee, my most sweet Lord; and since Thou dost so earnestly desire my love, I protest that I will only live for Thee. I desire to do whatever Thou willest of me. O my Jesus, I pray Thee, help me, and grant that I may please Thee entirely and continually in time and in eternity. Mary, my Mother, entreat Jesus for me, in order that He may grant me His holy love; for I desire nothing else in this world and in the next but to love Jesus. Amen.