JESUS “DESPISED AND THE MOST ABJECT OF MEN”
We have seen him … despised and the most abject of men (Is. liii. 2, 3). This great prodigy was once seen upon earth — the Son of God, the Lord of all Creation, the King of Heaven, despised as the most abject of men! Ah, how few there are, even among Christians, who reflect on the sorrows and ignominies which this Saviour endured for our sakes!
We have seen him, says the Prophet Isaias, despised and the most abject of men. This great prodigy was once seen upon the earth — the Son of God, the King of Heaven, the Lord of all Creation, despised as the most abject of men! St. Anselm says that Jesus Christ wished to be humbled and despised in such a manner that it would be impossible for Him to endure greater humiliations or contempt. He was treated as a person of mean condition. Is not this said the Jews, the carpenter’s son? (Matt. xiii. 55). He was despised on account of His country: Can anything of good come from Nazareth? (Jo. i. 46). He was called a madman: He is mad; why hear you him? (Jo. x. 20). He was considered a glutton and a friend of wine: Behold a man that is a glutton and a drinker of wine (Luke vii. 34). He was called a sorcerer: By the prince of devils he casteth out devils (Matt. ix. 34). And also a heretic: Do we not say well that thou art a Samaritan? (Jo. viii. 48).
But during His Passion He suffered still greater insults. He was treated as a blasphemer: when He declared that He was the Son of God, Caiphas said to the other priests: Behold, now you have heard the blasphemy: what think you? But they answering, said: He is guilty of death (Matt. xxvi. 65, 66). As soon as Jesus was declared guilty of blasphemy, some began to spit in His face, and others to buffet Him. Then, indeed, was fulfilled the prediction of Isaias: I have given my body to the strikers, and my cheeks to them that plucked them; I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me and spit upon me (Is. 1. 6). Jesus was treated too as a false prophet: Prophesy unto us, O Christ; who is he that struck Thee (Matt. xxvi. 68). The injury done Him by His own disciple Peter, who denied Him three times, and swore he had never known Him, added to the pain our Saviour suffered from the ignominies of that night.
Let us, O devout souls, go to our afflicted Lord, in that prison in which He is abandoned by all, and accompanied only by His enemies, who contend with each other in insulting and maltreating Him. Let us thank Him for all He suffers for us with so much patience: and let us console Him by acts of sorrow for the insults we have ourselves offered to Him; for we too have treated Him with contempt, and by our sins have denied Him, and declared that we knew Him not.
Ah, my amiable Redeemer, I would wish to die of grief at the thought of having given so much pain to Thy Heart, which has loved me so ardently. Ah, forget the great offences I have offered Thee, and look at me with that loving look which Thou didst cast on Peter after he denied Thee, and which made him bewail his sins unceasingly till death. O great Son of God, O infinite Love, Who dost suffer for the very men that hate and maltreat Thee! Thou art adored by the Angels, O infinite majesty! Thou wouldst confer too great an honour on men in permitting them to kiss Thy feet! And yet, O God, Thou didst allow Thyself on that night to be made an object of mockery to so vile a rabble! My despised Jesus, make me suffer contempt for Thy sake. How can I refuse insults, when I see that Thou, my God, hast borne so many for the love of me? Ah, my crucified Jesus, make me know Thee and love Thee.
Alas, how shameful is the cold contempt with which men treat the Passion of Jesus Christ! How few are there, even among Christians, who reflect on the sorrows and ignominies which this Redeemer has endured for our sake. We barely remember in a passing way the Passion of Jesus Christ, during the last days of Holy Week, when the Church renews the remembrance of His death by its mournful chant, by the nakedness of its altars, the darkness of its temples, and by the silence of its bells. But, during the rest of the year, we think as little of the Passion of the Redeemer as if it were a fable, or as if He had died for others and not for us! O God, how great must be the torture of the damned in hell when they see all a God suffered for their salvation, and that they voluntarily brought themselves to perdition!
My Jesus, do not permit me to be among the number of the miserable damned. No; I will never cease to think of the love Thou hast shown me in bearing so many torments and ignominies for me. Help me to love Thee, and always to remember the love Thou hast borne me.