for Holy Thursday
Jesus dies upon the Cross
Behold how the loving Saviour is now drawing nigh unto death. Behold, O my soul, those beautiful eyes growing dim, that face become all pallid, that heart all but ceasing to beat, and that sacred body now disposing itself to the final surrender of its life.
After Jesus had received the vinegar, He said: It is consummated. He then passed over in review before His eyes all the sufferings that He had undergone during His life, in the shape of poverty, contempt and pain; and then offering them all up to the Eternal Father, He turned to Him and said, It is finished. My Father, behold by the sacrifice of my death, the work of the world’s redemption, which Thou hast laid upon me, is now completed. And it seems as though, turning Himself again to us, He repeated, It is finished; as if He would have said, O men, O men, love me, for I have done all; there is nothing more that I can do in order to gain your love.
Behold now, lastly, Jesus dies. Come, ye angels of heaven, come and assist at the death of your King. And thou, O sorrowing Mother Mary, do thou draw nearer to the cross, and fix thine eyes yet more attentively on thy Son, for He is now on the point of death. Behold Him, after having commended His spirit to His Eternal Father, He calls upon death, giving it permission to come to take away His life. Come, O death, says He to it, be quick and perform thine office; slay Me, and save my flock. The earth now trembles, the graves open, the veil of the temple is rent in twain. The strength of the dying Saviour is failing through the violence of the sufferings; the warmth of His body is gradually diminishing; He gives up His body to death: He bows His head down upon His breast, He opens His mouth and dies: And bowing His head, He gave up the ghost. The people behold Him expire, and observing that he no longer moves, they say, He is dead, He is dead; and to them the voice of Mary makes echo, while she too says, “Ah, my Son, Thou art, then dead.”
He is dead! O God! Who is it that is dead? The author of life, the only-begotten Son of God, the Lord of the world, - He is dead. O death! Thou wert the amazement of heaven and of all nature. O infinite love! A God to sacrifice His blood and His life! And for whom? For His ungrateful creatures; dying in an ocean of sufferings and shame, in order to pay the penalty due to their sins. Ah infinite goodness! O infinite love!
O my Jesus! Thou art, then, dead, on account of the love which Thou has borne me! Oh, let me never again live, even for a single moment, without loving Thee! I love Thee, my chief and only good; I love Thee, My Jesus, - dead for me! O my sorrowing Mother Mary, do thou help a servant of thine, who desires to love Jesus.
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
The Ascetical Works : The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ
Meditations for Holy Week