REFLECTIONS AND AFFECTIONS ON THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself. But this he said, signifying what death he should die. (Jo. xii. 32). Jesus Christ said that when He should have been lifted up upon the Cross, He would, by His merits, by His example, and by the power of His love, draw towards Himself the loving affection of all souls: “He drew all the nations of the world to His love, by the merit of His Blood, by His example, and by His love.” Such is the commentary of Cornelius a Lapide. St. Peter Damien tells us the same: “The Lord, as soon as He was suspended from the Cross, drew all men to Himself through a loving desire.” And who is there, Cornelius a Lapide goes on to say, “who will not reciprocate the love of Christ, Who dies out of love for us?” Behold, O redeemed souls (as Holy Church exhorts us), behold your Redeemer upon that Cross where His whole form breathes love and invites you to love Him: His Head bent downwards to give us the kiss of peace, His arms stretched out to embrace us, His Heart open to love us: “His whole figure,” as St. Augustine says, “breathes love, and challenges us to love Him in return: His Head bent downwards to kiss us, His hands stretched out to embrace us, His bosom open to love us.”
Ah, my beloved Jesus, how could my soul have been so dear in Thy sight, beholding as Thou didst, the wrongs that Thou wouldst have to receive at my hands! Thou, in order to captivate my affections, wert willing to give me the extremest proofs of love. Come ye Scourges, ye Thorns, Nails, and Cross, which tortured the Sacred Flesh of my Lord, come and wound my poor heart; be ever reminding me that all the good I have received, and all that I hope for, comes to me through the merits of His Passion. O Thou Master of love, others teach by word of mouth, but Thou upon this bed of death, dost teach by suffering; others teach from interested motives, Thou from affection, asking no recompense excepting my salvation. Save me, O my Love, and let my salvation be the bestowal of the grace ever to love and please Thee; the love of Thee is my salvation.
While Jesus was dying upon the Cross, the men who were around Him never ceased to torment Him with reproaches and insults. Some said to Him: He saved others, himself he cannot save. Others: If he be the King of Israel, let him now come dowm from the cross. And Jesus, while these are outraging Him, what is He doing upon the Cross? He is, perhaps, praying the Eternal Father to punish them? No; He is praying Him to pardon them: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke xxiii. 34). Yes, says St. Thomas; to show forth the immense love which He had for men, the Redeemer asked pardon of God for His very crucifiers: “To show forth the abundance of His charity, He asked pardon for His persecutors.” He asked it, and obtained it; for, when they had seen Him dead, they repented of their sin: They returned smiting their breasts.
Ah, my dear Saviour, behold me at Thy feet: I have been one of the most ungrateful of Thy persecutors; do Thou likewise pray Thy Father to pardon me my sins. True, indeed, it is that the Jews and executioners knew not what they were doing when they crucified Thee; but I well knew that, in sinning, I was offending a God Who had been crucified, and had died for me. But Thy Blood and Thy death have merited even for me, the Divine mercy. I cannot feel doubtful of being pardoned; after I see Thee die to obtain pardon for me. Ah, my sweet Redeemer, turn towards me one of those looks of love wherewith Thou didst look upon me, when dying for me upon the Cross! Look upon me, and pardon me all the ingratitude which I have shown to Thy love. I repent, O my Jesus, of having despised Thee. I love Thee with all my heart; and, at the sight of Thy example, because I love Thee, I love all those likewise who have offended me. I wish them all possible good, and I purpose to serve them, and to assist them to the utmost of my power, for love of Thee, O my Lord, Who hast been willing to die for me, who have so much offended Thee.