REFLECTIONS AND AFFECTIONS ON THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST
Oh, how exceedingly tender, loving, and constraining was that declaration of our Blessed Redeemer concerning His coming into the world, when He said that He had come to kindle in souls the fire of Divine love, and that His only desire was that this holy flame should be enkindled in the hearts of men: I am come to cast fire upon the earth; and what will I but that it should be kindled? (Luke xii. 49). He continued immediately to say that He was expecting to be baptised with the baptism of His own Blood–not, indeed to wash out His own sins, since He was incapable of sinning, but to wash out our sins, which He had come to satisfy for by His sufferings: “The Passion of Christ is called baptism, because we are purified in His Blood.” And, therefore, our loving Jesus, in order to make us understand how ardent was His desire to die for us, added, with sweetest expression of His love, that He felt an immense longing for the time of His Passion, so great was His desire to suffer for our sakes. These are His loving words: I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptised; and how am I straitened until it be accomplished? (Luke xii. 50).
O God, the Lover of men, what more couldst Thou have said or done in order to put me under the necessity of loving Thee? And what good could my love ever do Thee, that Thou didst choose to die, and didst so much desire death in order to obtain it? If a servant of mine had only desired to die for me, he would have attracted my love; and can I then live without loving Thee with all my heart, my King and God, Who didst die for me, and Who hadst such a longing for death in order to acquire to Thyself my love?
Jesus, knowing that his hour was come that he should pass out of the world to the Father, having loved his own, … he loved them unto the end. (John xiii. 1). St. John says that Jesus called the hour of His Passion His hour; because, as a devout commentator writes, this was the time for which our Redeemer had most sighed during His whole life; because by suffering and dying for men, He desired to make them understand the immense love that He bore to them: “That is the hour of the lover, in which he suffers for the object beloved”; because suffering for the beloved is the most fitting way of discovering the love of the lover, and of captivating to ourselves the love of the beloved. O my dearest Jesus, in order to show me the great love Thou bearest me, Thou wouldst not commit the work of my redemption to any other than Thyself. Was my love, then, of such consequence to Thee, that Thou wouldst suffer so much in order to gain it? Oh, what more couldst Thou have done if Thou hadst had to gain to Thyself the love of Thy Divine Father? What more could a servant endure to acquire to himself the affections of his master than what Thou hast suffered in order that Thou mayest be loved by me, a vile, ungrateful slave?