CONSIDERATIONS ON THE PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
In a word, whatever blessing, whatever salvation, whatever hope we have, we have it all in Jesus Christ, and in His merits; as St. Peter says: Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under Heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved (Acts iv. 12). Thus there is no hope of salvation for us except through the merits of Jesus Christ; from which St. Thomas and all the Theologians conclude that, since the promulgation of the Gospel, we are bound to believe explicitly, of necessity, not only by precept, but by the necessity of the truth, that it is only through the merits of our Redeemer that we can be saved.
All the foundation, then, of our salvation consists in the Redemption of man wrought out by the Divine Word upon earth. We must, therefore, reflect that although the actions of Jesus Christ upon earth, being the acts of a Divine person, were of an infinite merit, so that the least of them was enough to satisfy the Divine justice for all the sins of men, yet nevertheless the death of Jesus Christ is the great sacrifice by which our Redemption was completed; so that, in the holy Scriptures, the Redemption of man is attributed chiefly to the death suffered by Jesus upon the Cross: He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil. ii. 8). Wherefore the Apostle writes, that in receiving the Holy Eucharist, we ought to remember the Lord’s death: As often as ye shall eat this bread and drink this chalice, ye shall show the Lord’s death until he come (1 Cor. xi. 26). But why does he mention the death of the Lord, and not His Incarnation, Birth, or Resurrection? He speaks of His death because this was the suffering of the greatest pain and greatest shame that Jesus Christ endured. And that completed our Redemption.
Hence St. Paul says: For I judged not myself to know anything among you but Jesus Christ, and him crucified (1 Cor. ii. 2). The Apostle well knew that Jesus Christ was born in a cave; that, for thirty years, He inhabited a carpenter’s shop; that He had risen from the dead, and had ascended into Heaven. Why, then, did he say that he would know nothing but Jesus, Jesus Crucified? Because the death suffered by Jesus Christ on the Cross was that which most moved him to love Him, and induced him to exercise obedience towards God and love towards his neighbour, which were the virtues most specially inculcated by Jesus Christ from the pulpit of His Cross. St. Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, writes: “In whatever temptation we fall, in the Cross is our protection; there is obedience to God, love for our neighbour, patience in adversity.” Whence St. Augustine says: “The Cross was not only the instrument of death to the Sufferer, but His chair of teaching.”
O devout souls, let us labour to imitate the Spouse of the Canticles, who said: I sat down under his shadow whom I desired (Cant. ii. 3). Let us, then, place often before our eyes, especially on Fridays, Jesus dying on the Cross; and let us rest there for a while and contemplate with tender affection His sufferings, and the love He bore to us, while He continued in agony upon that bed of pain. Let us also say: I have sat under the shadow of him whom I desired. Oh, how sweet is the repose that is found by souls who love God in the midst of the tumult of this world, and in the temptations of hell, and even in fears of the Divine justice, when they contemplate in solitude and silence our loving Redeemer as He hangs in agony upon the Cross, His Divine Blood flowing forth in drops from all His limbs, stricken and laid open with stripes, and thorns, and nails! Oh, how the desires of worldly honours, of earthly riches, of sensual pleasures, depart from our minds at the sight of Jesus crucified! Then does there breathe from that Cross a heavenly unction which sweetly detaches us from earthly things, and lights up in us a holy desire to suffer and die for love of Him Who has been willing to suffer and die for love of us.