REFLECTIONS AND AFFECTIONS ON THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST
Behold the King of Heaven, Who, hanging on that gibbet, is now on the point of giving up the ghost. Let us, too, ask of Him, with the Prophet: What are those wounds in the middle of thy hands? (Zach. xiii. 6). Tell me, O my Jesus, what are these wounds in the middle of Thy hands? The Abbot Rupert makes answer for Jesus: “They are the memorials of charity, the price of Redemption.” They are tokens, says the Redeemer, of the great love which I bear towards you; they are the payment by which I set you free from the hands of your enemies, and from eternal death. Do thou, then, O faithful soul, love thy God, Who has had such love for thee; and if thou dost at any time feel doubtful of His love, turn thine eyes, says St. Thomas of Villanova, turn thine eyes to behold that Cross, those pains, and that bitter death which He has suffered for thee; for such proofs will assuredly make thee know how much thy Redeemer loves thee: “The Cross testifies, the pains testify, the bitter death which He had endured for thee testifies this.” And St. Bernard adds, that the Cross cries out, every Wound of Jesus cries out, that He loves us with a true love: “The Cross proclaims, the Wounds proclaim, that He truly loves.”
O my Jesus, how do I behold Thee weighed down with sorrow and sadness! Ah, too much reason hast Thou to think that while Thou dost suffer even to die of anguish upon this wood, there are yet so few souls that have the heart to love Thee! O my God, how many hearts are there at the present moment, even among those that are consecrated to Thee, who either love Thee not, or love Thee not enough! O beautiful flame of love, thou that didst consume the life of a God upon the Cross, oh, consume me, too; consume all the disorderly affections which live in my heart, and make me live burning and sighing only for that loving Lord of mine, Who, for love of me, was willing to end His life, consumed by torments, upon a gibbet of ignominy! O my beloved Jesus, I wish ever to love Thee, and Thee alone, alone; my only wish is to love my Love, my God, my All.
Thine eyes shall behold thy teacher. (Is. xxx. 20). It was promised to men that with their own eyes they should see their Divine Master. The whole life of Jesus was one continuous example and school of perfection; but never did He better inculcate His own most excellent virtues than from the pulpit of His Cross. There what an admirable instruction does He give us on patience, more especially in time of infirmity; for with what constancy does Jesus upon the Cross endure with most perfect patience the pains of His most bitter death. There, by His own example, He teaches us an exact obedience to the Divine precepts, a perfect resignation to God’s will; and, above all, He teaches us how we ought to love. Father Paul Segneri, the Younger, wrote to one of his penitents that she ought to keep these words written at the foot of the crucifix: “See what it is to love.”
It seems as though our Redeemer from the Cross said to us all, “See what it is to love,” whenever, in order to avoid something that is troublesome, we abandon works that are pleasing in His sight, or at times even go so far as to renounce His grace and His love. He has loved us even unto death, and came not down from the Cross till after He had left His life thereon. Ah, my Jesus, Thou hast loved me even unto dying for me; and I too wish to love Thee even unto dying for Thee. How often have I offended and betrayed Thee in time past! O my Lord, revenge Thyself upon me; but let it be the revenge of pity and love. Bestow upon me such a sorrow for my sins as may make me live in continual grief and affliction through pain at having offended Thee. I protest my willingness to suffer every evil for the time to come, rather than displease Thee. And what greater evil could befall me than that of displeasing Thee, my God, my Redeemer, my Hope, my Treasure, my All.