“And when they came to the place which is called Calvary, they crucified Him there.” (Luke 23:33)
Prior to the crucifixion, we can imagine the infinite beauty of Our Lord, the beauty of His physique and the luminosity of His Sacred Face, where the aesthetic principles of the universe resided. The grace of His gestures, the elegance of His bearing, the sobriety of His manners and goodness must have exerted a strong attraction. When He spoke, who could imagine the tone of His voice, its inflections and unique capacity of expression?
But when He was nailed to the cross, He was deformed, without beauty, and one massive, bloody wound. This great victim was innocence itself. He had never sinned. He was the personification of virtue. He never had the need to make up for anything, but nonetheless, did so without measure.
Why? Because of the gravity of our sins. We should feel deep sorrow and regret at the sight of Him, the Innocent One Who bore sins with the sinner. He Who was most pure, most sacred, carried them for me! This should stir us to a great trust. One who was redeemed at such a price need only ask to obtain the necessary grace to practice virtue and the good that will lead him to Heaven.
Today, Our Lord’s pains are caused by the blasphemies and scorn against the Catholic Church, as well as the worship of the idols of a pagan society: egalitarianism, sensuality, revolt, impurity, murder, theft, adultery. Which of God’s commandments are not transgressed today? What is my attitude in face of this situation?
Facing my sins and the insufficiency of my atonement, I must kneel, strike my breast, and firmly resolve to sin no more.
“When Jesus therefore had seen His mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He said to His mother: ‘Woman, behold thy son.’ After that, He said to the disciple: ‘Behold thy mother.’ And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.” (John 19:26-27)
Saint John the Evangelist was at the foot of the cross also representing a sort of summit. His love had reached a high point. He was the “beloved” disciple.
On Holy Thursday, he had rested his head on Our Lord’s breast and heard the pulses of the Sacred Heart of Jesus then beating with love for all mankind. Later that night, just as the other apostles, he had slept and fled. However, he was the virgin Apostle, the beloved Apostle, and virgin souls, even in deplorable situations, find the means and strength to fulfill their duty.
On the other hand, God protects virgin souls. God attracts virgins to Himself. Thus, not only did Saint John have the honor of being the disciple of love, but also of being present at that summit of love when Our Lord died on the Cross. In this way he represented all the Apostles and rescued the Apostolic College from complete disgrace.
Furthermore, in this zenith of love he received the ultimate reward, because there can be no greater gift than for a person to receive Our Lady as a present. When Our Lord said, “Woman, behold your son,” and then to Saint John, “Behold your mother,” he received a priceless gift.
“One of the soldiers with a spear opened His side: and immediately there came out blood and water.” (John 19:34)
Our Lord had already died when the soldier, known as Longinus, pierced His side. In this way, Our Lord’s Sacred Heart shed the last drop of blood, the last drop of water, for our salvation. What extreme mercy! What extreme goodness! What extreme compassion!
All the blood in the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ was shed, to show that He gave us everything. He did this without holding back a single drop, because of His immense desire to save us. One drop of His blood would have sufficed to save the world, yet He shed all His blood to the point that the last drops were mixed with water. He wanted to hold back nothing in order to redeem us.
My God, how many times have I pierced the Heart of Jesus like the lance of Longinus? It could have been through grave sin; but certainly through my chronic habit of indifference, which is the reason I do not change, I do not progress nor do I want to progress. I see others progressing, but I can’t be bothered.
According to tradition, Longinus was blind in one eye. A bit of the water gushing from Our Lord’s side fell on his blind eye, which was healed, and he later became a saint. Who knows, maybe I will also receive this grace of becoming a saint. Oh Lord, at the moment of Your death, I beseech You to grant me this grace.
“And taking Him down, he wrapped Him in fine linen, and laid Him in a sepulcher that was cut in stone, wherein no man had yet been laid.” (Luke 23:53)
Lord Jesus, I contemplate Your body taken down from the cross, Your humanity seemingly crushed, and Your infinitely precious blood shed during Your Passion. Oh, Man of sorrows, your soul and body suffered as much as a man could suffer.
As long as this world exists, You will be our model of suffering with all its nobility, strength, gravity, sweetness, and sublimity. This is a model of suffering not only considered rationally, but also from the infinite perspective of faith; a suffering understood theologically, as a necessary penance and an essential means of sanctification.
Through the infinite merits of Your Most Precious Blood, grant our minds the necessary clarity to understand the role of suffering in our lives and grant us the strength required to truly love it.
It is only by understanding the role of suffering and the mystery of the Cross that humanity can save itself from the tremendous crisis it undergoes. It is just this understanding of suffering that can save from eternal punishment those who, even at the moment of death, reject Your invitation to accompany You on the Via Dolorosa.
Multiply on Earth souls who love the Cross. This is the marvelous grace we ask of You this Holy Week in the twilight of our civilization.