On the Charity of Jesus during His Passion.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Charity of Jesus during His Passion.
It is always a pleasing sight to see any one perform a kind action towards his neighbor; and when the charitable work is done at the cost of self-denial and stern self sacrifice, it merits our admiration in a far higher degree. But what calls for the highest admiration, what is most touching, most deeply affecting is to see a man suffering excruciating agony, nay, in the very pangs of death, in his last agony, yet so forgetful of self, that his words, his actions still breathe tender charity for his fellow men. This impressive sight is afforded by the Redeemer in His Passion and death, which are recalled to mind every Friday.
1st. Consider the charity that actuated Him during the terrible agony in the Garden of Olives. Apart from the fact that charity was the cause, the motive of His Passion as a whole, observe how charity was exhibited in every, even the smallest detail, and was apparent throughout the course of the Passion, from the time of His going up to the Mount of Olives until He drew His last breath upon the cross. When He went into the Garden of Olives He left eight of His disciples behind, out of tender compassion for their frailty, sparing them the sight of their Master’s agony lest it might cause their faith to waver. With the fear of death oppressing Him He prays, He keeps His tearful vigil, holding aloof from the three disciples who are asleep, lovingly desirous to spare them, although in His anguish and desolation their presence would have been a comfort to Him. When the executioners came to apprehend Him, He does not think of Himself; His only concern is for the disciples who took no part with Him in His agony. For them He entreats His enemies: “If you seek Me, let these go their way,” (St. John xviii. 8.) On seeing Malchus, one of His foes, bleeding from the blow struck by Peter, He lovingly stretches out His hand to heal him, the self-same beneficent hand on which Malchus has come to put fetters. Look, my soul, into this mirror of charity which your suffering Lord holds up to your view, and compare your charity towards your neighbor with that which He manifested in His agony on the Mount of Olives sparing, saving, interceding for others.
2d. Consider furthermore His charity during the bitter sufferings He endured throughout the night and in the morning after His arrest. With loving patience and in silence He bears the coarse maltreatment of the soldiers, in order not to provoke them to the increase of their guilt, and yet more in order to touch their hearts, if possible, by His patience. Without a single word of reproach He turns His eyes upon Peter after his fall with so loving an expression, that he who had denied Him a moment before bewails his fault with tears of repentance. He rewards the trifling service rendered to Him by Veronica with the gift of the miraculous image imprinted on her veil; nor does He fail, despite His deadly fatigue, His own deep need of solace, to address words of loving consolation, of salutary admonition, to the weeping women of Jerusalem. Such was the fraternal charity exercised by Jesus when led captive along the via crucis, whereas you, one of God’s chosen servants, a special object of His favor, living in the most favorable circumstances, so rarely practise this virtue. You treat your neighbor with unkindness and impatience, instead of with kind forbearance; the fire of hatred and revenge too often gleams in your eyes instead of compassionate forgiveness; instead of returning grateful thanks you sometimes requite good with evil, and instead of comforting the afflicted, you are the cause of grief to others. How much longer will you plead guilty to this indictment?
3d. Consider the charity of Jesus whilst hanging upon the cross. One would have imagined that in this hour of awful torture, in the agony of death, that our Lord would no longer have had the wish, the power to exercise the same loving solicitude for men. But it is not so. As long as His heart beats, it throbs with love; as long as His lips can move, they utter words of love, and until His eyes grow dim in death, they dwell with looks of love upon unhappy mortals. “Father, forgive them,” such is His loving prayer on behalf of those who crucified Him. “This day thou shalt be with Me in paradise,” such is the loving consolation He gives to the repentant thief. “Woman, behold thy son,” such are the words wherewith the dying Son, in loving anxiety for His Mother, commends her to the care of the apostle. And even when His eyes are closed, His lips benumbed by death, those being the only instruments left Him after His hands were fixed to the cross by nails, the only means whereby to exercise His ardent charity, even then He causes His side to be pierced, in order that His loving heart may ever be open to receive all who need His aid. O my soul, is it possible that with charity such as this before you, the charity displayed by your Lord and Master in His Passion and death, you can be so cold, so wanting in charity towards your Brethren, your Sisters? And yet you can look up, without blushing with shame, to your crucified Lord, and can take His holy name upon your lips!
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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