Rorate Caeli

The Man of Sorrows


The anguish of the Passion of the Lord Jesus cannot fail to move to pity even the most hardened hearts, as it constitutes the climax of the revelation of God’s love for each of us. Saint John observes: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

It is for love of us that Christ dies on the cross! Throughout the course of the millennia, a great multitude of men and women have been drawn deeply into this mystery and they have followed him, making in their turn, like him and with his help, a gift to others of their own lives. They are the saints and the martyrs, many of whom remain unknown to us.

Even in our own time, how many people, in the silence of their daily lives, unite their sufferings with those of the Crucified One and become apostles of a true spiritual and social renewal! What would man be without Christ? Saint Augustine observes: “You would still be in a state of wretchedness, had He not shown you mercy. You would not have returned to life, had He not shared your death. You would have passed away had He not come to your aid. You would be lost, had He not come” (Discourse 185:1). So why not welcome him into our lives?

Let us pause this evening to contemplate his disfigured face: it is the face of the Man of Sorrows, who took upon himself the burden of all our mortal anguish. His face is reflected in that of every person who is humiliated and offended, sick and suffering, alone, abandoned and despised. Pouring out his blood, he has rescued us from the slavery of death, he has broken the solitude of our tears, he has entered into our every grief and our every anxiety.
Benedict XVI
Good Friday, 2009

7 comments:

Prodinoscopus said...

Beautiful words by the Holy Father. He is a great lover of Jesus Christ, and for that he is to be blessed. Yet I must wonder aloud concerning the theological implications of this line:

[The] face [of the suffering Jesus] is reflected in that of every person who is humiliated and offended, sick and suffering, alone, abandoned and despised.

Every "humiliated and offended" person, without exception? What about those who are "humiliated and offended" by the truth claims of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Church? What about the militant homosexuals who are "humiliated and offended" by the Church's moral teaching? What about the Christ-hating rabbis who are "humiliated and offended" by the Traditional Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews? In what sense are we to see the face of the Man of Sorrows in the faces of those who are offended precisely by Jesus himself?

Anonymous said...

℣. My people, what have I done to thee? Or in what have I grieved thee? Answer me.

℣ Because I brought thee out of the land of Egypt: Thou hast prepared a cross for thy Savior

℟. O Holy God. O Holy Strong One. O Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us.

℣. Because I led thee through the desert 40 years: and fed thee with manna, and brought thee into a land exceedingly good, thou hast prepared a cross for thy Savior.

℟. O Holy God. O Holy Strong One. O Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us.

℣. What more ought I to do for thee, that I have not done? I planted thee, indeed, my most beautiful vineyard: and thou hast become exceedingly bitter to Me: for in My thirst thou gavest me vinegar to drink: and with a spear thou has pierced the side of thy Savior.

℟. O Holy God. O Holy Strong One. O Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us.

℣. For thy sake I scourged Egypt with its firstborn: and thou hast scourged Me and delivered Me up.

℟. My people, what have I done to thee? Or in what have I grieved thee? Answer me.

℣. I brought thee out of Egypt having drowned Pharaoh in the Red Sea: and thou hast delivered Me to the chief priests.

℟. My people, what have I done to thee? Or in what have I grieved thee? Answer me.

℣. I open the sea before thee: and thou with a spear hast opened My side.

℟. My people, what have I done to thee? Or in what have I grieved thee? Answer me.

℣. I went before thee in a pillar of a cloud: and thou hast brought Me to the judgment hall of Pilate.

℟. My people, what have I done to thee? Or in what have I grieved thee? Answer me.

℣. I fed thee with manna in the desert: and thou hast beaten Me with blows and scourges.

℟. My people, what have I done to thee? Or in what have I grieved thee? Answer me.

℣. I gave you the water of salvation and from the rock to drink: and thou hast given me gall and vinegar.

℟. My people, what have I done to thee? Or in what have I grieved thee? Answer me.

℣. For thee I struck the kings of the Canaanites: and thou hast struck My head with a reed.

℟. My people, what have I done to thee? Or in what have I grieved thee? Answer me.

℣. I gave thee a royal scepter: and thou hast given to My head a crown of thorns.

℟. My people, what have I done to thee? Or in what have I grieved thee? Answer me.

℣. I have exalted thee with great power: and thou hast hanged me on the gibbet of the Cross.

℟. My people, what have I done to thee? Or in what have I grieved thee? Answer me.

Jordanes said...

Prodinoscopus, the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matt. 25 identifies Jesus with those who are imprisoned -- it doesn't say "wrongfully imprisoned." It is possible to see Christ's face reflected even in the faces of those whose humiliation and offense results from their sin, because Christ told us to love even our enemies and do good to those who persecute us and despitefully use us. Christ was not ashamed to submit to the shame of being identified and labeled as a criminal and blasphemer and heretic, in order if at all possible to save everyone, even criminals, blasphemers, and heretics.

At this time we must remember the lesson of the Good Friday Reproaches that someone has kindly posted here: we, the people of the Israel of God, are all too often like Israel of old, despising God's gifts and repaying His love with unfaithfulness and perfidy -- when we sin, we are like the crowd in Jerusalem who conspired to kill Christ or consented to His death, and therefore all the more in need of God's astounding and inexhaustible mercy . . . if we would only accept it.

Prodinoscopus said...

Jordanes, point well taken.

John McFarland said...

"The anguish of the Passion of the Lord Jesus cannot fail to move to pity even the most hardened hearts...."

This, of course, is not true. Indeed, it is untrue to the point of absurdity. But why then does His Holiness say it?

"Throughout the course of the millennia, a great multitude of men and women have been drawn deeply into this mystery and they have followed him, making in their turn, like him and with his help, a gift to others of their own lives. They are the saints and the martyrs, many of whom remain unknown to us."

Why does the Pope speak here of the second of the Great Commandments, and not of the first, from which the second follows? Is gift of self the essence of sanctity -- or even of love of neighbor? Is gift of self the most important thing about sanctity that the men of the present age need to hear?

"Let us pause this evening to contemplate his disfigured face: it is the face of the Man of Sorrows, who took upon himself the burden of all our mortal anguish. His face is reflected in that of every person who is humiliated and offended, sick and suffering, alone, abandoned and despised. Pouring out his blood, he has rescued us from the slavery of death, he has broken the solitude of our tears, he has entered into our every grief and our every anxiety."

The burden of "our mortal anguish"? Isaiah says: "the Lord has laid on him the iniquities of us all." Why no mention of iniquities, and in particular of OUR iniquities? Anguish is in one way or another the effect of sin; but we are not told about its cause in the Pope's remarks.

Jordanes is of course right about the Improperia: they are a series of reproaches directed above all against us, the new Israel, punctuated by our pleas, in Greek and Latin, for mercy.

But that only serves to highlight the gap between the spirit of the Improperia, and the spirit of Pope Benedict's remarks; because in the Pope's remarks there is, for all practical purposes, no sign of sin.

Now perhaps the Pope thinks that this is just an updating of the message of the gospel.

But do you? Do you see see the continuity between sanctity according to any of the spiritual masters and sanctity according to His Holiness?

We must rejoice in the resurrection of the Lord; but we must also beg Him to end the Gethsemane of His Bride and our Holy Mother that still continues.

Jordanes said...

Mr. McFarland, if you follow New Catholic's hyperlink to the full text of the Pope's concluding comments, you may perhaps find that there is no cause for you to be concerned that the Holy Father was updating the Gospel by eliminating mention of our iniquities. New Catholic was only highlighting excerpts, but he did include the reference to the great wretchedness of our state if not for Christ's Passion and Death.

Jordanes said...

It is with great regret that certain commenters who have a most inappropriate manner of observing the Sacred Paschal Triduum have made it necessary to close comments on this blog post.