|Antonio Castillo Lastrucci|
Nuestro Padre Jesús en su Presentación al Pueblo
Parish Church of St. Benedict, Abbot, Seville
It was revealed to St. Gertrude that as many times as someone glances at the Crucified One with devotion, the same amount of times that person is looked upon by Jesus. St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio wrote: “O amiable Passion that divinizes those who meditate upon You.” And speaking of the wounds of the Crucified One, they are called wounds which melt the hardest of hearts and inflame the coldest of souls with divine love: "...vulnera dura corda vulnerantia, et mentes congelatas inflammantia."
The Passion of Our Lord has always been the standard meditation and contemplation of the Saints. In fact, writes St. Alphonsus de Liguori, “From where have the Saints attained courage to bear their persecutions, torments and death itself, but in the sufferings of Jesus Crucified? Who, therefore, could not love Jesus, seeing Him die amidst so many sufferings and so much contempt, in order to obtain our love? […] If we meditate often upon the crucifixion of Jesus, we would be taught to fear sin and, we would be inflamed with love towards such a beloved God seeing in those wounds the malice of sin which has reduced Him to suffer such a bitter death. This to make satisfaction to Divine Justice and also that we might understand just how much the Savior loved us.”
St Augustine said that one tear alone shed when meditating upon the Passion of Jesus Christ, is worth more than a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and a year spent in fasting on bread and water.
The spectacle of the Cross has been the favored contemplation of the souls enamoured of Our Lord. Meditating with a loving glance upon the way of Calvary, St. Augustine comments: “Jesus set off towards the place where he would be crucified, carrying His Cross. What a spectacle! It is a great scandal in the eyes of the wicked, it is a terrible and humiliating spectacle, but he who knows how to look upon it with sentiments of devotion, discovers in it a great support for his faith. Those who assist at this spectacle with a wicked soul, can only laugh at the King Who, instead of a sceptre, carries the cross upon which He will be tortured; the pious, on the other hand, contemplate the King Who bears the cross upon which He will be nailed, but Who will then be placed before all kings. Upon it He will be despised by the wicked, while the hearts of the saints will glory in it.” St. Paul, in fact, says: “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of Christ” (Gal 6:14). Christ exalted the cross by carrying it on His shoulders, and He bore it like a candelabrum - the light that must burn and which is not to be placed under a bushel ( Mt. 5:15). In the cross, therefore, one must glory: in fact, it is the instrument of our redemption and a pledge of the resurrection.
But there is one detail of the Passion of the Savior which it would be useful to highlight, since too often it is forgotten. Our Lord, on the cross, was not alone. St. Augustine, in the footsteps of St. Paul, teaches that Jesus Christ is both Head and Body. We – therefore – members of His Mystical Body – were with Him in each of the mysteries of His life; also – and above all, in the supreme mystery of the Redemption.
“No! – says St. Augustine – we are not to see in Jesus Christ (Who suffers upon the Cross) only the Head, that is, only the Mediator between God and man. We must consider Jesus Christ as the perfect man, Who in Himself re-unites the head and the body; because the whole Christ includes the head and the body. Therefore, on the cross, He Himself speaks in the name of His body, when He says: Deus meus, Deus meus, ut quid dereliquisti me? God the Father, in fact, had not abandoned Jesus Christ, nor had Jesus Christ abandoned God the Father. But man, since he had abandoned God, had in reality, been abandoned by God. Jesus Christ, having taken the flesh of Adam, speaks here, ex persona ipsius carnis, as if He were Adam, since ‘our old man’ was affixed to the cross with Him.”
Thus, Jesus was not alone on the Cross; we were in truth present with Him. So when our Head died, we also, as members inseparably united to Him, died together with Him. “The great Sacrifice of Jesus Christ – observes Bossuet – was the preparation for the Sacrifice of our death, and Jesus Christ is also the High Priest (just as He was on the Cross). Let us raise ourselves at this point above the natural way of seeing things: one of the great uses which Jesus will make of His sacrificial action will be to renew and to perpetuate, until the end of the world, His Sacrifice, and not only the mystery of the Divine Eucharist, but also in the death of all His true Faithful.”
From the inexhaustible contemplation of the Cross of Our Lord, of which we are participants, without merit, let us draw the true wisdom which sees in the Scandal of the Cross, the mystery of the greatest love. “With interior eyes look at the wounds of the Crucified One – exhorts St. Augustine – the scars of the Risen One. Think of the value of all these things and place it on the balance scales of love.
May He, Who , for your sake was nailed to the Cross, be in every way impressed upon your heart.
[Editorial - De vita Contemplativa – The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, Italy. Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]