Jesus celebrates His Last Pasch with the Apostles.
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.
Jesus celebrates His Last Pasch with the Apostles.
“And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him; and He said to them: With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer.”—St. Luke xxii. 14, 15.
IT was on the morning of Holy Thursday, which, according to the Jewish rite, was the first day of the unleavened bread, and occurred on the fourteenth day of the moon of March. Jesus was still in Bethania, at the house of Martha, His generous and pious benefactress. The apostles came to Him and said, “Whither wilt Thou that we go, and prepare for Thee to eat the Pasch?” (St. Mark xiv. 12.) Choosing two of His disciples, Peter and John, Jesus said to them, “Go ye into the city: and there shall meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water, follow him: and whithersoever he shall go in, say to the master of the house, The Master saith: Where is My refectory, where I may eat the Pasch with My disciples? And he will show you a large dining room furnished: and there prepare ye for us.” The Evangelist subjoins, “And His disciples went their way, and came into the city: and they found as He had told them, and they prepared the Pasch.”
The poverty and divinity of Jesus Christ are strikingly manifested in this evangelical passage. His poverty, because He had no place wherein to celebrate the Jewish Pasch, for which reason He sent His disciples to find a place; His divinity, because, as master of the universe, He had only to ask in order to obtain whatever He desired. A similar circumstance is connected with His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. He then also sent two of His disciples to a house to take a beast of burden of which He had need. However, His divinity is more manifest in this second instance; for He did not say to His disciples, “Go to such a house and tell the master,” but He said, “Go ye into the city: and there shall meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water, follow him: and he will show you a large dining-room furnished: and there prepare ye for us.”
A devout author explaining the reason why our Lord did not specify any particular house, says that it was because Jesus knew that Judas was seeking an opportunity to deliver Him into the hands of His enemies; and were they made aware of where the Pasch was to be celebrated, he would inform the chief priests and ancients of the people, who would at once send soldiers to disturb the feast, and, perhaps, the master of the house. Thus, by not mentioning openly the place where He wished to celebrate the Pasch, Jesus showed how great was the goodness and tenderness of His heart towards His friends.
At sunset, our Divine Redeemer, accompanied by His twelve apostles, set out on the way to Jerusalem. Avoiding Bethphage and Mount Olivet, He took the road which passed near the sepulchre of Josaphat, between Mount Olivet and the Mount of Scandal. This was the usual and shortest way. Jesus’ joy on this eve was great, and that of the disciples was not less; but it was a joy that would not outlast the feast. The Divine Master was well aware of what was to happen at the close of that day. He knew that for Him and His beloved disciples joy was soon to be turned into sorrow. Therefore, we may imagine that upon leaving the house of Martha, Jesus said to Himself, “For the last time I am leaving Bethania as a mortal man.” Proceeding on His way, He may have noticed a sycamore-tree, and cried, in the sadness of His heart, “On this tree one of My disciples will hang himself to-morrow.” While crossing the valley of Josaphat, He may have glanced towards the Garden of Olives and thought, “To-night I shall return here, no longer to contemplate the joys of heaven, but to abandon Myself to a mortal agony.” Passing over the torrent of Cedron, He may have said within Himself, “I shall cross this torrent again to-night, but not in company with My disciples: I shall be bound as a malefactor, and surrounded by My bitterest enemies and most cruel executioners.” Entertaining those pious thoughts in our minds, let us go in spirit with Jesus to Jerusalem. It will be profitable for us to exercise our imagination in the production of vivid pictures of those holy places, for they have power to awaken in our minds many pious thoughts and tender recollections.
Having reached Jerusalem, Jesus proceeded to that portion of the city which is situated on the southern part of Mount Sion. Here was located the house in which the Pasch was prepared for Him and His disciples. They repaired thither, entered, and found everything in readiness. After a brief interval of rest they took their places at the table and began to eat the legal supper, which consisted of unleavened bread, some lettuce, and roast lamb. According to the Jewish rite, this paschal lamb was specially selected from the flock, was spotless, and, five days before the sacrifice, was brought to Jerusalem amid rejoicing and festivity. This celebrated feast of the Passover was ever a joyous one among the Jews, for it commemorated that happy night on which the Angel of the Lord slew all the first-born of the Egyptians, thus delivering the Israelites from their cruel bondage; and, opening a path for them through the Red Sea, God guided them miraculously across the desert into the promised land. In memory of those benefits the Jews were obliged to eat the paschal lamb standing and with staves in their hands.
While Jesus was partaking of the mysterious lamb, His divine countenance suddenly lighted up and beamed for a moment with unusual joy; then, turning to His disciples, He sighed deeply and said, “With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer. For I say to you, that from this time I will not eat it, till it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Having spoken these words, Jesus took the chalice into His sacred hands and, after giving thanks, said, “Take, and divide it among you; for I say to you, that I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, till the kingdom of God come” (St. Luke xxii. 15-18).
“Oh, how wondrous was the magnanimity of Jesus Christ!” exclaims St. Laurence Justinian, commenting upon the conduct of our Divine Lord at the Last Supper. And truly what soul can be so insensible as not to be moved by it? Jesus Christ is about to enter upon His bitter passion; before His mind arises a vision of all the opprobrium so soon to be heaped upon Him; He knows that this night will be for Him a night of anguish and torments; He knows that on the morrow at this same hour He will be dead, even taken from the cross and buried. Yet He is full of joy; all His thoughts are directed to His disciples; He endeavors to console and comfort them, without any concern whatever for Himself. Such utter disinterestedness is out of the common order of nature; for we know that a man about to be executed, far from experiencing a feeling of joy and exultation, becomes saddened and all concentrated in himself. He grows oblivious to all around him, thinking only of his own dread fate and the terrible journey on which he is to depart. Not so, however, with Jesus Christ. He seems to forget Himself, anxious only to console His disciples: thus He clearly manifested His charity, magnanimity, and divinity.
O admirable love! O love truly worthy of the Son of God! And shall we not endeavor to correspond to this divine charity? Shall we remain indifferent or lukewarm towards our loving Redeemer? Alas! if we have hitherto been ungrateful, let us resolve to be so no more. If we have not the heroic virtue which animated the saints with an eager desire of suffering in order to please God, let us at least bear with patience and resignation the unavoidable trials and sufferings of our daily life.
In order to derive more profit from this meditation, let us imagine ourselves present in the supper-room with Jesus and the apostles, lovingly admitted there to partake with them of the legal supper; then we may consider as addressed to ourselves those affectionate words which the fond Master spoke to His disciples: “With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer.”
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.
Ask of God much suffering; in giving it to you, He will do you a great favor, for in this single gift are countless blessings. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Bartoli, Book iv.
February Devotion: The Holy Trinity (also the Holy Family)
Virtue to practice: Humility
I vow and consecrate to God all that is in me: my memory and my actions to God the Father; my understanding and my words to God the Son; my will and my thoughts to God the Holy Ghost; my heart, my body, my tongue my senses and all my sorrows to the sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, ‘who was contented to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men and to suffer the torment of the Cross.’ – St. Francis de Sales
An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of oblation is devoutly repeated every day for a monh (S.P.Ap., Sept. 22, 1922 and May 12, 1934).
The faithful who devoutly offer any prayers in honor of the Most Holy Trinity with the intention of continuing them for nine successive days, may gain:
An indulgence of 7 years once each day:
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions at the end of the novena (S.C. Ind., Aug. 8 1847; S.P. Ap., Mar. 18, 1932).
Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Lourdes
O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Comforter of the Afflicted, thou knowest my wants, my troubles, my sufferings; deign to cast upon me a look of mercy. By appearing in the grotto of Lourdes thou wert pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary from where thou dost dispense thy favors, and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence, to implore thy maternal intercession. Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. Through gratitude for thy favors, I will endeavor to imitate thy virtues, that I may one day share in thy glory. R. Amen.
V. O Mary, conceived without sin,
R. Pray for us who have recourse to thee.
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