CONSIDERATIONS ON THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST
Let us not lose courage but keep our eyes ever fixed on the Crucified One, because from Him we shall draw strength to endure the evils of this life not only with patience, but even with joy and gladness, as the Saints have done: Ye shall draw waters with joy out of the Saviour’s fountains (Is. xii. 3); that is, says St. Bonaventure, from the Wounds of Jesus Christ. Therefore the Saint exhorts us ever to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus dying upon the Cross, if we would live always united to God. “Devotion,” says St. Thomas, “consists in being ready to accomplish in ourselves whatever God demands of us.”
Observe the excellent advice St. Paul gives us, that we may live ever united with God, and may patiently endure the troubles of this present life: Think diligently upon him that endured such opposition from sinners against himself, that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds (Heb. xii. 3). He says think diligently; for in order to suffer with resignation and peace present troubles, it is not enough to give a hasty glance, a few times in the year, at the Passion of Jesus Christ; we must often meditate on it, and every day turn our eyes to the pain the Lord suffered for love of us. And what were the pains He suffered? The Apostle says: He endured such contradiction. The contradiction Jesus Christ endured from His enemies was such as to make Him, as it had been foretold by the Prophet, the vilest of men, and the man of sorrows, until He died of agony, overwhelmed with insults, upon a gibbet fit only for the most reprobate. And why did Jesus Christ embrace this burden of pain and insult? That ye might not be wearied fainting in your minds; that, seeing how much a God has been willing to endure, in order to give us an example of patience, we might be patient, and endure all to be delivered from our sins.
The Apostle, St. Paul, encourages us, saying: Ye have not resisted unto blood, striving against sin (Heb. xii. 4). Remember therefore, that Christ poured forth for you all His Blood in His Passion through torments, and that the holy Martyrs, after the example of Him, their King, have courageously endured hot plates, and iron nails which have torn open their very bowels; but you have not shed a single drop of blood for Jesus Christ, while we ought to be ready to give our life rather than offend God, and to say with St. Edmund: I would rather leap into a flaming furnace than commit a sin against my God.” And thus St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, said: “Had I to endure all the bodily pains of hell or commit a sin, rather than commit it, I would choose hell.”
The infernal lion ceases not through all our life to go about seeking to devour us; therefore St. Peter tells us that, by thinking of the Passion of Christ, we ought to arm ourselves against his attacks. St. Thomas says that the mere recollection of the Passion is a great defence against all the temptations of hell. And St. Ambrose says: “If there had been any better way of salvation for men than the way of suffering, Christ would have shown it to us both by word and example; but now, going before us with the Cross upon His shoulders, He has shown us that there is no better way of obtaining salvation than suffering with patience and resignation, and He Himself has given us the example in His own Person.”