Evening Meditations for the Twenty-first Friday After Pentecost~ St Alphonsus Liguori

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Evening Meditation



The Prophet Isaias called our Redeemer a man of sorrows and acquainted with infimities (Is. liii. 3). Contemplating the sorrows of Jesus Christ, Salvian exclaimed, “O Love, I know not whether to call Thee sweet or severe: Thou dost appear to be both.” O Love of my Jesus, I know not what to call Thee. Thou hast indeed been sweet towards us in loving us after so much ingratitude; but to Thyself Thou hast been cruel to excess, in choosing a life so full of pains, and in suffering a death so full of bitterness, in order to atone for our sins.

St. Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, writes that to save us from hell, Jesus Christ assumed the most extreme pain and the most extreme ignominy. To satisfy the Divine justice, it would be enough for Him to have suffered any pain; but no, He wishes to submit to the most galling insults and to the sharpest pains, in order to make us comprehend the malice of our sins, and the love with which His Heart was inflamed for us.

The God-man assumed the most extreme pain; hence, as we read in the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews, He said: A body thou hast fitted to me (Heb. x. 5). The body which God gave to Jesus Christ was made on purpose for suffering, and therefore His flesh was most sensitive and delicate. Sensitive, or capable of feeling pain most acutely: delicate, or so tender that every stroke which it received left a wound; in a word, His sacred body was made on purpose for suffering.

Besides, all the sorrows that Jesus Christ suffered till He expired on the Cross were always present to His mind from the first moment of His Incarnation. He saw them all, and cheerfully embraced them, in order to accomplish the will of His Father, Who wished that He should be offered in sacrifice for our salvation. Then, said I, Behold, I come: in the head of the book it is written of me that I should do thy will, O God (Heb. x. 7). This, according to the Apostle, was the oblation which obtained for us Divine grace. In the which will, we are sanctified by the oblation of the body of Jesus Christ once. (Heb. x. 10).


But what, O my Redeemer, induces Thee to sacrifice Thy life amid so many sorrows for our salvation? St. Paul answers: to this He was led by the love He bore us: Christ hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us (Eph. v. 2). He hath delivered himself: love has induced Him to give His body to the scourges, His head to the thorns, His face to the spittle and buffets, His hands and feet to the nails, and His life to death.

Let him who wishes to see a man of sorrows look at Jesus Christ. Behold Him hanging on three nails; behold the entire weight of His body sustained by the wounds in His hands and feet; each member suffers its proper torment without any mitigation of pain. The three hours during which Jesus remained on the Cross are justly called the Three Hours of the Saviour’s Agony; for during these three hours He suffered a continual agony and sorrow, which gradually brought Him to death, and in the end took away His life; this Man of Sorrows died of pure pain.

And what Christian, O my Jesus, can believe that Thou hast died for him on the Cross, and not love Thee? And how have I been able to live so many years in such forgetfulness of Thee, as to offend so often and so grievously a God Who has loved me so intensely? Oh that I had died before I had ever offended Thee! O Love of my soul, O my Redeemer! Oh that I could die for Thee, Who hast died for me! I love Thee, O my Jesus, and I wish to love nothing but Thee.

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