Evening Meditations for the Tenth Saturday After Pentecost~ St Alphonsus Liguori

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Evening Meditation



Hitherto we have spoken only of the outward bodily pains of Jesus Christ. And who can ever explain and comprehend the inward pains of His soul, which a thousand times exceeded His outward pains? This inward torment was such that in the Garden of Gethsemane it caused a sweat of Blood to pour forth from all His body, and compelled Him to say that this was enough to cause His death: My soul is sorrowful even unto death (Matt. xxvi. 38). And since this anguish was enough to cause death, why did He not die? St. Thomas answers that He did not die because He Himself prevented His own death, being ready to preserve His life, in order to give it by and by upon the tree of the Cross. This sorrow also which most deeply afflicted Jesus Christ in the Garden, afflicted Him also throughout His whole life since, from the first moment when He began to live, He had ever before His eyes the causes of His inward grief; among which the most afflicting was the sight of the ingratitude of men towards the love He showed them in His Passion.

An Angel came to comfort Him in the Garden, as St. Luke relates (Luke xxii. 43). Yet Venerable Bede says that this comfort, instead of lightening His pains, increased them. The Angel, indeed, strengthened Him to suffer with greater constancy for the salvation of men; upon which Bede remarks that Jesus was then strengthened for suffering by a representation of the greatness of the fruits of His Passion, without the least diminution of the greatness of His sufferings. Therefore the Evangelist relates that immediately after the appearance of the Angel, Jesus Christ was in an agony, and sweated blood in such abundance that it trickled down upon the ground (Luke xxii. 43, 44).

St. Bonaventure further relates that the Agony of Jesus then reached its height; so that our afflicted Lord, at the sight of the anguish He must suffer at the termination of His life, was so terrified that He prayed His Divine Father that He might be delivered from it: Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me (Matt. xxvi. 39). Yet He said this, not that He might be delivered from the pains, for He had already offered Himself to suffer them–He was offered because he himself willed–but to teach us to understand the agony which He experienced in enduring this death so bitter to the senses; while in order to accomplish the will of His Father, and to obtain for us the salvation He so ardently desired, He immediately added: Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt (Matt. xxvi. 39). And He continued thus to pray and to resign Himself for the space of three hours: He prayed the third time, saying the same word (Matt. xxvi. 44).


But let us continue the Prophecy of Isaias. He foretold the blows, the buffetings, the spitting, and the other insults which Jesus Christ endured the night before His death from the hands of the executioners, who kept Him in bondage in the palace of Caiphas, in order to take Him the next morning to Pilate, and to have Him condemned to death. 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). These insults are described by St. Mark, who adds that these soldiers, treating Jesus as a false prophet, in order to mock Him, covered His face with a cloth, and then, striking Him with blows and buffetings, bade Him prophesy who it was that smote Him (Mark xiv. 65).

Isaias goes on to speak of the death of Jesus Christ: He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter (Is. liii. 7). The eunuch of Queen Candace, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, considering this passage, asked St. Philip, who, by a Divine inspiration, had come to join him, of whom were these words to be understood, and the Saint then explained to him the whole Mystery of the Redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ. Thereupon the eunuch, being enlightened by God, desired at once to be baptized.

Isaias continues, and foretells the great fruits which the world would derive from the death of the Saviour, and says that from it great numbers of Saints would be spiritually born: Because his soul hath laboured he shall see and be filled; by his knowledge shall this my just servant justify many, and he shall bear their iniquities (Is. liii. 10, 11).

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