WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK
ON THE SUFFERINGS OF OUR SAVIOUR UPON THE CROSS
Consider first, what our Lord suffers upon the cross for the whole time that he continues living upon it, till he consummates his sacrifice. Draw near, my soul, and sit down under the shadow of thy true lover, with a longing desire to be his scholar in this school of love. Contemplate at leisure the multitude and variety of his sufferings. And first, as to his sacred body; see how ‘from the sole of the foot to the top of the head there is no soundness therein;’ Isaias i.6, see how it is all covered with wounds and blood. O how rough is this hard bed of the cross to a body all torn and mangled! O how uneasy is this pillow of a thorny crown to his wounded head! See all the cruel bruises with which his divine face is disfigured, and reflect on the smart and the pain of them. See how the whole body is violently stretched and extended as upon a rack, with an inexpressible torture in all the joints and limbs. But above all, remark those four streams of blood, those fountains of Paradise, that flow from the four most painful wounds of his hands and feet; and consider how the whole weight of his body, hanging by these gross nails that pierce the nerves and bones, while it naturally sinks downwards, is continually rending and tearing his wounds and increasing his pains.
Consider 2ndly, what our Saviour suffers interiorly in his soul, and thou shalt find it to be much more insupportable than all he endures in his body. Witness the inexpressible horror he has for the sins of the world, all now lying upon him and oppressing his soul with their infinite weight; his deep sense of those blasphemies he hears uttered against the Deity, and the contempt they show for his person and his divine truths. Witness the anguish of his soul to see the hardness, blindness, and reprobation of his once chosen people, the Jews; together with the final impenitence of Judas, and the eternal damnation of so many millions of souls for whom he is now offering himself in sacrifice, every one of whom he loves more than his own life. Add to this his grief to see the unspeakable desolation of his blessed Mother, and of all his friends, and himself left without any manner of relief or comfort from any creatures whatsoever, and even forsaken by his heavenly Father, and given up to the will and pleasure of his enemies. Ah! Christians, no tortures can be comparable to those of the soul!
Consider 3rdly, that besides these sufferings both of body and soul, which our Lord endures on the cross for the love of us, he pleased moreover to suffer in all other ways which any mortal can be liable to in this life. He suffers in his honour, by the disgrace of being hanged between two thieves, and loaded with all kinds of reproaches and affronts; he suffers in his reputation, by outrages, calumnies, and impositions; he suffers in his goods, by being stript of his very clothes, (the all he had in this world,) and exposed naked to shame and cold; he suffers from all sorts of people, from Jews and Gentiles, great and small, priests and laity, all conspiring as much as they can to add to his afflictions. His enemies insult and triumph over him; his friends are ashamed of him; those whom he had favoured with his miracles declare against him; his disciples keep at a distance, and are afraid of being involved in his punishments. His eyes see nothing but what may add to his anguish; his ears are entertained with nothing but injuries and blasphemies; his palate is afflicted with a mortal thirst; and his own body, by its weight, is a continual and most grievous torment to him. O sweet Jesus, how dearly hast thou paid for my sins!
Conclude to station thyself at the foot of the cross, and there to contemplate in the sufferings of thy Saviour the enormity of thy sins, and the goodness of thy God, that thou mayest there learn how thou art to detest thy sins and to love thy God.