CONSIDERATIONS ON THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST
Let us return to speak for a little on the confidence we should have in Jesus Christ that He will grant us salvation. St. Augustine encourages us, saying that this Lord, Who has delivered us from death by shedding all His Blood, desires not that we should perish; and that if our sins separate us from God, and make us deserving of being rejected, our Saviour, on the other hand, cannot reject the price of the Blood He shed for us. Let us, then, boldly follow the counsel of St. Paul who says: Let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us; looking on Jesus the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame (Heb. xii. 1). Let us run with patience the race before us, because it profits little to begin if we do not struggle on to the end; while patience in enduring labour will obtain for us the victory, and the crown that is promised to him who conquers.
This patience will be the shield which will defend us from the swords of our foes; but how shall we obtain it? “By looking,” says the Apostle, “to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of Faith,” Who, says St. Augustine, despised all earthly goods that He might show that they are to be despised; Who endured all earthly evils which He taught us have to be endured, that in these we might neither seek the joys of the world, nor fear its persecution. Then with His glorious Resurrection Jesus Christ animated us not to fear death; because, if we are faithful to Him even until death, we shall obtain eternal life, be free from all evil, and enjoy every good. This is signified by the Apostle’s words: Jesus, the author and finisher of Faith; for Jesus Christ is the Author of the Faith, in teaching us what to believe, and giving us grace to believe it; and so also He is the Finisher of Faith, by promising we shall one day enjoy that blessed life in which He teaches us to believe. And that we may be sure of the love this Saviour bears to us, and of the will He has that we should be saved, St. Paul adds: Who having joy set before him endured the cross; on which words St. John Chrysostom remarks that Jesus might have saved us by leading a life of joy upon earth; but that to make us more certain of the love He bore us, He chose a life of pain, and a death of shame, dying as a malefactor upon the Cross.
O souls that love the Crucified, let us give ourselves to love this loving Redeemer, so worthy of love, and let us love Him to the utmost of our power. Let us also suffer for Him, because He has been willing to suffer for love of us; and let us not cease to ask Him continually to grant us the gift of His holy love. Happy are we if we attain to a great love for Jesus Christ! The Venerable Father Vincent Carafa, an eminent servant of God, in a letter to some studious and devout young men, wrote as follows: “To reform ourselves and our whole life, we must give all our study to the exercise of Divine love. The love of God alone, when it enters a heart, and obtains possession of it, purifies it from all inordinate love, and makes it at once obedient and pure.” St. Augustine says a pure heart is a heart emptied of every desire; and St. Bernard says that he who loves, loves, and desires nothing more; meaning that he who loves God desires nothing but to love Him, and banishes from his heart everything that is not God. And thus it is that, from being empty the heart becomes full, that is, full of God, Who with Himself brings every good thing; and then earthly pleasures, finding no place in such a heart, have no power over it. What power can earthly pleasures have over us if we enjoy Divine consolations? What power is there in ambition for vain honours, and the desire of earthly riches, if we have the honour of being loved by God, and begin to possess a share in the riches of Paradise? To measure, therefore, the advance we have made in the ways of God, let us observe what advance we have made in loving Him; whether we often during the day make acts of love towards God; often speak of the love of God; whether we take pains to inflame in others God’s love; whether we perform our devotions solely to please God; whether we suffer with full resignation all adversities, infirmities, pains, poverty, slights, and persecutions in order to please God. The Saints say that love is as necessary for the life of a soul that truly loves God as breathing is for the life of the body, since the soul’s very life both in time and eternity consists in the love of our sovereign Good, which is God.