THE SWEAT OF BLOOD AND AGONY OF JESUS
There is no means that can more surely kindle Divine love in us than to consider the Passion of Jesus Christ. St. Bonaventure says that the Wounds of Jesus, because they are the Wounds of love, are darts which pierce the hardest hearts, and flames which set on fire the coldest souls. “O wounds, wounding stony hearts and inflaming frozen minds!”
Our loving Redeemer, as the hour of His death was approaching, retired into the Garden of Gethsemani, where of His own will He made a beginning of His most bitter Passion, by giving free way to fear and weariness and sorrow: He began to fear, and to be heavy — to grow sorrowful, and to be sad (Mark xiv. 33; Matt. xxvi. 37). He began, then, to feel a great fear and weariness of death, and of the pains which must accompany it. At that moment there were represented to His mind most vividly the scourges, the thorns, the nails, the cross, which, not one after the other, but every one together, came to afflict Him; and specially there stood before Him the desolate death He must endure, abandoned by every comfort, human and Divine; so that, terrified by the sight of the horrid vision of such torments and ignominies, He besought His Eternal Father to be freed from them: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me (Matt. xxvi. 39). But how is this? Was it not this same Jesus Who had so much desired to suffer and die for men, saying: I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished! (Luke xii. 50). How then, does He fear these pains and this death? It was with good-will indeed He was going to die for us: but to the end that we might not suppose that through any virtue of His Divinity He could die without pain, He made this prayer to His Father that we might fully know that He not only died for love of us, but that the death He was to die did terrify Him greatly.
To torment our afflicted Saviour there was added a great sorrowfulness — so great that, as He said, it was enough to cause death: My soul is sorrowful even unto death (Matt. xxvi. 38). But, Lord, to deliver Thyself from the death men are preparing for Thee is in Thy own hands, if it so please Thee; why, then, afflict Thyself? Ah, it was not so much the torments of His Passion as our sins which afflicted the Heart of our loving Saviour. He had come on earth to take away our sins; but seeing that, in spite of His Passion, there would be committed such iniquities in the world — this was the pang which before dying reduced Him to death, and made Him sweat living blood in such abundance that the ground all round about was bathed therewith: And His sweat became as drops of blood trickling down upon the ground (Luke xxii. 44). Yes, Jesus then saw before Him all the sins men were going to commit after His death, all the hatred, the impurities, thefts, blasphemies, sacrileges, and each sin, with its own malice, came like a cruel wild beast to rend His Heart. So that He seemed to say: Is this, then, O men, the recompense you make to my love? Ah, if I could see you grateful to Me, with what gladness should I now go to die; but to see, after so many sufferings of mine, so many sins; after so great love, so much ingratitude — this it is which causes Me to sweat blood.
Were they, then, my sins, my beloved Jesus, which in that hour so greatly afflicted Thee? If, therefore, I had sinned less, Thou wouldst have suffered less. The more pleasure I have taken in sinning, so much the more sorrow did I cause Thee. How is it that I do not die of grief in thinking that I have repaid Thy love by increasing Thy pain and sorrow? Have I, then, afflicted that Heart which has so much loved me? With creatures I have been grateful enough; with Thee only have I been ungrateful. My Jesus, pardon me; I repent with all my heart.
Seeing Himself burdened with our sins, Jesus fell upon his face (Matt. xxvi. 39), as if ashamed to lift up His eyes to Heaven, and lying in the agony of death He prayed a long time: Being in an agony he prayed the longer (Luke, xxii. 43).
Ah, my Lord, Thou didst pray then to the Eternal Father to pardon me, offering Thyself to die in satisfaction for my sins. O my soul, how is it that thou dost not surrender thyself to such great love? Believing this, how canst thou love aught else than Jesus? Come! cast thyself at the feet of thy Savour in His agony, and say to Him: My dear Redeemer, how is it that Thou couldst love one who had so offended Thee? How couldst Thou suffer death for me, seeing my ingratitude? Make me, I pray Thee, partaker of this sorrow which Thou didst feel in the Garden. Now I abhor all my sins, and unite this abhorrence to that which Thou hadst for them. O love of my Jesus, Thou art my love! Lord, I love Thee, and for love of Thee I offer myself to suffer any pain, any kind of death. Ah, by the merits of the agony which Thou didst suffer in the Garden, give me holy perseverance! Mary, my hope, pray to Jesus for me.