THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT
ON DEVOTION TO THE PASSION OF CHRIST
Consider first, that meditating on the sufferings and death of our Redeemer ought to be a principal part of the Christian’s devotion during the time of Lent. For the season approaches in which we celebrate the yearly memory of our Lord’s passion, and therefore the Church, which at no time can forget the sufferings and death of her heavenly Spouse, at this time particularly recommends to her children to set before their eyes their crucified Saviour, and to make him the great object of their devotion. His passion is the ever-flowing source of all mercy, grace, and salvation to us; all our good must be derived from his cross; therefore, the more we approach to him in his sufferings, and station ourselves near the cross, by pious meditations on his passion, the more plentifully shall we partake of the mercy and grace which flow continually from those fountains of life, his precious wounds. The great design of Lent is that the sinner should now return to God, and sue for pardon and mercy; and what better means can he have for this, than by taking along with him to the throne of mercy the blood of Christ, by daily meditating on his passion.
Consider 2ndly, that the passion of Christ has been always from the beginning of the world, the great object of the devotion of the children of God: in all their bloody sacrifices of old, of oxen and sheep, they celebrated beforehand the death of the Lamb of God, slain in figure from the beginning of the world. And as, from the time of the fall of Adam, no grace could ever be derived to any man, but through the channel of the merits of the death and passion of our Redeemer, whose future coming was revealed to man immediately after his fall; so no sacrifices could ever be acceptable to God, but such as had relation to him, and through faith in him. Much more now under the new law, are all the faithful obliged to make the passion of Christ the great object of their devotion, since he has instituted the eucharistical sacrifice and sacrament, and left us therein the sacred mysteries of his body and blood; for this very end, that in our most solemn worship, we should have always before our eyes his passion and death. See, my soul, how much thy God desires thou shouldest remember what he has suffered for thee! And why? Doubtless that by this means thou mightest be confirmed in his love. O blessed be his goodness for ever!
Consider 3rdly, how ungrateful all such Christians are, as forget the suffering and death of their Redeemer; may they not all be reckoned in the number of those of whom he complained of old, by the Royal Prophet, that they left him alone in his passion, and took no notice of him. ‘I looked on my right hand, and beheld, and there was no one that would know me,’ Ps. cxli. 5. Had the meanest man upon earth suffered but the tenth part of what our Lord has suffered for the love of one of us, we should be basely ungrateful if we ever forgot his sufferings and his love. What then must we think of ourselves, if we forget the unspeakable sufferings and infinite love of the Son of God himself, nailed to a cross, to deliver us by his death from the eternal torments of hell? Ah, Christians, let us never be so ungrateful.
Conclude, O my soul, at this holy time at least, daily to accompany thy crucified Jesus by meditations on his sufferings. ‘With Christ I am nailed to the cross,’ said St. Paul, Gal. ii. 12. ‘My love is nailed to the cross,’ said St. Ignatius, the martyr. O that like these generous lovers, we could always adhere to our crucified God.