REFLECTIONS AND AFFECTIONS ON THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST
The Divine Word came into the world and took to Himself human flesh in order to make Himself loved of man, and therefore He came with such a longing to suffer for our sakes that He would not lose a moment in beginning to torment Himself, at least by apprehension. Hardly was He conceived in the womb of Mary, than He represented to His mind all the sufferings of His Passion; and in order to obtain for us pardon and Divine grace, He offered Himself to His Eternal Father to satisfy through His dolours for all the chastisements due to our sins; and from that moment He began to suffer everything that He afterwards endured in His most bitter death. O my most loving Redeemer, what have I hitherto done or suffered for Thee? If I could for a thousand years endure for Thy sake all the torments that all the Martyrs have suffered, they would yet be nothing compared with that one first moment in which Thou didst offer Thyself and begin to suffer for me.
The Martyrs did indeed suffer great pains and ignominy; but they endured them only at the time of their Martyrdom. Jesus, even from the first instant of His life, continually suffered all the torments of His Passion; for, from the first moment, He had before His eyes all the horrid scene of torments and insults which He was to receive from men. Wherefore He said by the mouth of the Prophet: My sorrow is continually before me. (Ps. xxxvii. 18). O my Jesus, Thou hast been so eager to suffer for my sake, that Thou wouldst even endure Thy sufferings before the time; and yet, I am so greedy for the pleasures of this world. How many times have I offended Thee in order to please my body! O my Lord, through the merits of Thy sufferings, take away from me, I beseech Thee, all affection for earthly pleasures.
God in His compassion for us does not generally reveal to us the trials that await us before the time when we are destined to endure them. If a criminal to be executed on a gibbet had revealed to him from the first use of his reason the torture that awaited him, could he ever have been capable of joy? If Saul from the beginning of his reign had had present to his mind the sword that was to pierce him, if Judas had foreseen the cord that was to suffocate him, –how bitter would their life have been. Our kind Redeemer, even from the first instant of His life, had always present before Him the scourges, the thorns, the Cross, the outrages of His Passion, the desolate death that awaited Him. When He beheld the victims which were sacrificed in the Temple, He well knew that they were figures of the sacrifice which He, the Immaculate Lamb, would one day consummate on the Altar of the Cross. When He beheld the city of Jerusalem, He well knew that He was there to lose His life in a sea of sorrows and reproaches. When He saw His dear Mother, He already imagined He saw her in an agony of suffering at the foot of the Cross, near to His dying Self. So that, O my Jesus, the horrible sight of all these evils kept Thee during the whole of Thy life continually tormented and afflicted before the time of Thy death. And Thou didst accept and suffer everything for my sake.
O my agonising Lord, the sight alone of all the sins of the world, especially of mine, by which Thou didst already foresee I should offend Thee, rendered Thy life more afflicted and painful than all the lives that have ever been or ever will be. But, O my God, in what barbarous law is it written that a God should have such great love for a creature, and yet that same creature live without loving His God, or rather, should offend and displease Him? O my Lord, make me know the greatness of Thy love, in order that I may no longer be ungrateful to Thee. Oh, if I but loved Thee, O my Jesus,–if I really loved Thee–how sweet it would be to me to suffer for Thee!