Saturday, March 14, 2015

Christ's Agony in the Garden: For Love of the Creature

"He would fain shake off this immense burden that crushes Him - He would fain free Himself of this horrible load which makes Him shudder - His own purity rejects it - the very glance of the avenging Father, Who abandons Him in these muddy, putrid waters of guilt with which He sees Himself covered - all of this rushes to His Spirit, urging Him to draw back from the bitter Passion.  The revulsion of His Divinity against sin  adds to the conflict within His human soul.  All instinct counsels that  He unburden Himself of these infamies, rejecting the very thought of them.  But the consideration of unvindicated justice and the unreconciled sinner predominates in His Heart full of love.  These two forces, these two loves, one more holy than the other, struggle for victory in the Heart of the Saviour.  Which will conquer?  Without doubt He wants to give victory to offended justice.  This gains all over all else and He wants this to triumph.  But what a spectacle must He represent?  That of a man soiled with the filth of humanity.  He, essential sanctity, to see Himself filthy with sin, even if only in outward appearance?  This, No!  This terrifies Him, makes Him tremble, crushes Him.

To find support in this terrible conflict, He gives Himself over to prayer.  Prostrate before the Majesty of His Father, He says:  "Father, take this chalice from Me!"  It is as if He said: My Father, I want  Thy glory, I want Thy justice to be fully satisfied.  I want the human family to be fully reconciled with Thee.  But that I, Who am sanctity itself, should see Myself defiled by sin, Ah!  Not this!  Take away, therefore, take away this chalice, and Thou to Whom all is possible, find in the infinite treasures of Thy Holy Wisdom another means.  But if Thou dost not  want this, "Not My will but Thine be done!"

Because I am such an ignoramus, I have so often overlooked or took for granted the cause of Christ's grief in the Garden.  There is a scene in Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" where the Devil appears and asks Jesus why He thinks he can take on the sins of the world, something no one has ever done.  Satan had a vested interest in Jesus refusing the Cup of Suffering His Father put before Him: Without the ultimate sacrifice, so many souls would fall into despair with no hope of eternal life. 

 Yes, I know Christ was innocence itself, but did I ever stop to think of how defiled He was because of our sins, my sins?  The Scourged Christ, so difficult to look upon, is disfigured by me.  The scourges are just an outward sign of the real wounds inflicted on the Son of God.   Who else will ever love me like this, enough to take on my ugliness, my festering sores oozing with the pus of immorality, blasphemy, neglect, hatred, jealousy, envy, sloth, and more?   I know this and yet it is so hard sometimes to carry the comparatively small crosses I am asked to shoulder.  

This Lent has been full of discouragement.  A priest who preached Therese with remarkable insight was suspended from the Archdiocese for downloading thousands of pornographic images on his computer.  The mother of one of my son's friends took her own life, leaving two teenagers to fend for themselves in this world.  She is the second such mother who has done this in the past year.  A police officer and father of two young boys murdered in a botched robbery attempt.  All those lives ruined.  I could go on, but I won't.  I can't.  It's overwhelming sometimes.  I am reminded of the words "blind faith".   I believe.  But without God's help, I cannot shoulder the load.  And I have no right to complain.  

If I can have one thing this Lent, I beg the Lord for the kind of love that will make me abhor sin because of the pain it causes Him. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Christ's Agony in the Garden: Perfect Conformity to the Father's Will

"Jesus rises and turns His sad and suppliant glance to Heaven.  He raises His arms and prays.  My God, with what deadly pallor that face is suffused!  He prays to that Father Who seems to have turned away His glance and Who appears ready to strike Him with His sword of vengeance.  He prays with all the confidence of a Son, but He fully understands the position He holds.  He realizes that it is He alone, as a victim for the human race, Who bears the odium of having outraged the Divine Majesty.  He realizes that He alone through the sacrifice of His life can satisfy divine justice and reconcile the creature with the Creator.  He wants it, and wants is efficaciously.  But nature is crushed at the sight of His bitter Passion.  Nature revolts against the sacrifice.  But His spirit is ready for the immolation, and He continues the battle with all His strength.  He feels Himself cast down but He perseveres in the oblation of Himself.

My Jesus, how can we obtain strength from Thee, if we see Thee so weak and crushed?

Yes, I understand.  Thou hast taken all our weaknesses upon Thyself.  And to give us Thy strength Thou hast become the scape-got.  It is to teach us that we must place our trust only in Thee in the struggles of life, even when it seems as if Heaven were closed to us."