“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
FRIDAY, April 2nd Jn. 18. 1-19, 42 CRUCIFIXION OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
“Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered. Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.”
“Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, ‘Whom are you looking for?’ They answered him, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ He said to them, ‘I AM.’ When he said to them, ‘I AM,’ they turned away and fell to the ground.”
- The Gospel of Saint John was the last gospel written. He includes details not mentioned by the other Evangelists that he deemed worthy of attention. The opening quote is an example.
- In the book of Exodus in the Old Testament, Moses encounters God in the burning bush. He sends Moses to the Israelites with a message of deliverance from bondage to the Egyptians. Moses asks, “If they ask me your name, what am I to say?” God responds, ‘Say I AM has sent me to you.”
- In the Garden, when Jesus says, “I AM” they fall to the ground. He is telling them that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There is only one God. The God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are one and the same God. And Jesus is God made man!
- Saint Paul says: “Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.” (Rom. 11: 13)
- Saint Paul goes on to say, “As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Rom. 11: 28-29)
- There is One God who calls all people to Himself through the fulcrum of the Cross! The message for us is to beware and be vigilant. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful lest you fall!” (1 Cor. 10: 12)
CRUCIFIXION OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
“FATHER, FORGIVE THEM, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.”
GRACE TO BEG FOR: Beg for the grace to meditate upon how much Jesus suffered for love of you and me, and in return beg for the grace to suffer with Christ.
CONTEMPLATE THE CROSS & CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS
“No greater love has a man than this, to lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15: 13) These words of Jesus were prophetic words that Our Lord and Savior uttered alluding to the reality of His own death by means of His most cruel and bitter CRUCIFIXION!!!
REASONS FOR THE CRUEL AND BITTER SUFFERING OF JESUS’ CROSS AND CRUCIFIXION: SAINT IGNATIUS AND THE SAINTS.
Before entering into the graphic, but efficacious and sanctifying historical fact of the cross and Crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, it is of primary importance that we state the primary reasons why Jesus indeed suffered so much! Saint Thomas Aquinas asserts that any action of Jesus, the God-Man, would have been enough to save all of humanity countless times. Something as simple as Jesus lifting a splinter from the carpenter shop floor would have been sufficient to save all of humanity and all of us individually. Why? Because it is a Theandric action—meaning an act done by God, in this case Jesus, the Son of God made man. All of the actions of Jesus, even the most minimal, had an eternal, all-encompassing value, with an efficacious power to save all.
WHY THEN SO MUCH SUFFERING? Saint Ignatius highlights two reasons:
First, THE GRAVITY OF SIN. To show all of humanity and all of us individually the real gravity of sin. In other words, in the divine perspective, in the eyes of God, sin is something serious, very serious, so serious that God was willing to die so as to save our immortal souls!
Second, LOVE AT ITS PINNACLE!!! The second reason why Jesus indeed suffered so much by shedding every drop of His Most Precious Blood was to show us how much He truly loves us!
A TRULY PERSONAL LOVE. In all truth, with respect to the reality of the excruciating pain, suffering, agony, and anguish that Jesus suffered in His Crucifixion, Jesus went through all of it for love of you and me. Still more, if you were the only person in the world, the only person in the whole created universe, then Jesus would have gone through all of His Passion, Crucifixion and death on the Cross for love of you! Moreover, He would have allowed Himself to be crucified a thousand times over for love of you and the salvation of your immortal soul!!!
THE BACKGROUND AND THRUST OF PLUMBING THE DEPTHS OF THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS. Therefore, it must be stated that in all of the elements and details of the Passion, death, and especially the Crucifixion of Jesus, you must call to mind that Jesus suffered this personally for love of you, the love of your very person, and the ardent desire for the eternal salvation of your immortal soul. How great is the love of Jesus for you and how much you should reciprocate His love in return!
CONTEMPLATE THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS: THROUGH THE EYES & HEART OF MARY +++ Beg for the grace to be able to contemplate the Crucifixion, suffering, bloodshed and death of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through the eyes and Heart of the one who loved Him most—the Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of Mary. Become a beggar and humbly beg for the grace. Viewing the film of Mel Gibson, The Passion of the Christ, could prove to be exceedingly useful in this contemplation of the Crucifixion of Jesus and the presence of Mary.
1. THE HANDS OF JESUS EXTENDED. Contemplate the Sacred Hands of Jesus that He extends to the cross. These Sacred Hands blessed children; these Sacred Hands multiplied the loaves and the fishes; these Sacred Hands touched the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, and even the wounds of the lepers! These same Sacred Hands, in the context of the Last Supper, took Bread and Wine and transformed them into His Precious Body and Blood offered for us and for all of humanity. Contemplate the two soldiers carrying out their cruel mission. One extends the arm and hand of Jesus while the other pounds the nail into His hand, and then the next. Be courageous enough to see Jesus’ Precious Blood spurting out, streaming out, and then dripping to the ground. Muster up enough courage and love to look into the Face of Jesus and see the utter agony He is undergoing for love of you and me.
2. THE FEET OF JESUS NAILED AND FASTENED TO THE CROSS. The torture of Jesus continues. His two feet are now extended. The two soldiers work together to get the job done. They work on the feet of Jesus one at a time. Recall the fact that these feet walked upon the mountain to bring the Good News of the Gospel—to bring sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and to set captives free. (Is. 3:5) These same feet walked on water, hurried to heal the sick and cast out demons, and walked the Way of Calvary to His place of Crucifixion. Once again, contemplate the nail piercing one of His feet and see His Blood issuing forth; then the other foot is nailed and the Precious Blood that spurts out and flows to the ground. Be close to Jesus, be willing to stay with Him and talk with Him. Jesus is fastened to the cross and deprived of freedom and movement so as to set the captive free from their many sins, and that captive is you and me! Spend as much time as you wish contemplating and loving Jesus now nailed hands and feet to the cross, and derive abundant spiritual fruit and profit!
3. THE CROSS TURNED UPSIDE DOWN. If useful, taken from the film of Mel Gibson, contemplate the soldiers deriding and mocking Jesus by turning the cross over, upside-down. Contemplate the Precious Blood of Jesus, the Blood that He shed for our salvation, as it drips to the ground. All of this Jesus humbly accepts as He conforms His will to the will of the Heavenly Father—“Father, not my will, but your will be done.” (Lk. 22: 42)
4. THE CROSS LIFTED ON HIGH. Brutally now, the soldiers hoist and lift up the cross on which Jesus is hanging and thrust it violently into a hole dug on Mount Calvary. Try to imagine the suffering that Jesus must have undergone in both His Sacred Hands and Feet upon the lifting of the cross and its violent thrusting into the hole in the ground! His nerves must have been writhing in excruciating pain!
5. JESUS HANGS ON THE CROSS AND BLEEDS… Worthy of your meditation and contemplation might be to stand next to the Blessed Virgin Mary as she stands at the foot of the cross, with the Beloved Apostle Saint John, as well as the repentant Mary Magdalene, and see the Precious Blood of Jesus as it continues to ooze out of His Sacred Hands and Feet… watch it trickle down the cross and make its way to the ground, a ceaseless dripping on the ground for the salvation of souls!
6. JESUS’ BREATHING. Contemplate another important detail of Jesus as He hangs painfully on the cross—the reality of His breathing. We inhale and exhale without thinking, awake or asleep. Not so for Jesus as He hangs on the cross. Jesus has to painfully push Himself up to inhale and get sufficient air in His lungs to sustain His life, then He sinks down again as He exhales. All this is suffering for Jesus, our God who ordained our conception, our life-breath, and even now sustains us in being! Jesus will breathe forth His spirit as He dies, and breathe forth the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles after He rises from the dead. Be with Jesus and accompany Him with every breath He takes. Beg Jesus to breathe forth His Spirit upon you all the days of your life!
7. THE THIRST OF JESUS. One of the words that Jesus says from the cross, prophesied in Psalm 22, is that of I THIRST!!! Be there with Mary and contemplate with her eyes and heart, the presence and words of Jesus as He says: I THIRST!!! In fact, Jesus does thirst, but most especially He thirsts for you! Jesus thirsts for your love; Jesus thirsts for your conversion; Jesus thirsts for your soul; and Jesus especially thirsts for the salvation of your soul because He thirsts for you to be with Him forever in Heaven! Saint Augustine expresses it clearly and succinctly: “Jesus thirsts that you thirst for Him; Jesus hungers that you hunger for Him.”
8. JESUS SUFFERS AND YOU SUFFER. No person every suffered more than Jesus in the history of the world because He truly bore the guilt of all the sins of the whole world, from the beginning of time to the end of time! Suffering in and of itself has no real purpose or meaning. Many people become angry, bitter, resentful, caustic, sarcastic, and cynical as a result of suffering. The reason? They see no reason or purpose for suffering. As we contemplate the unspeakable suffering of Jesus as He hangs on the cross, we begin to understand that suffering does have meaning, but only when the suffering is united with the life, suffering, and death of Jesus! The Lord Jesus did not flee or shrink from the cross and suffering. Quite the contrary! The Heavenly Father willed that Jesus drink the bitter chalice of suffering to its very dregs and Jesus said YES to this bitter suffering for love of all humanity, but for love of you and me individually. Stand with Mary at the foot of the cross and be with Jesus as He is about to breathe forth His spirit into the hands of the Father. Console Jesus and talk to Him with whatever words or sentiments come to your mind and heart in this moment. Thank Jesus for accepting His suffering on the cross for love of you. Talk to Jesus about your own crosses and sufferings and unite them to His sufferings now and every day. If this is done, your suffering will have infinite value for you and those you pray for, and many other souls in time and for all eternity!
9. THE UNIVERSAL EXTENT OF THE SUFFERING OF JESUS ON THE CROSS. As you stand next to Our Lady of Sorrows, Saint John, and Magdalene, look up at Jesus and contemplate Him with great love. As you contemplate Jesus with His Precious Blood dripping from the wounds in His hands and feet, and His difficulty breathing, reflect on the value of Jesus’ intense suffering for the salvation of all of humanity, but also very specifically for your salvation. This list can help you in your consideration of the many forms of suffering that Jesus experienced:
1) PHYSICAL. His whole body was an open wound from the balls of His feet to the crown of His Sacred Head—recall the film of Gibson!!! When the soldiers removed His garment before nailing Him to the Cross, the wounds of His scourging would have opened and bled afresh.
2) MORAL. He accepted on His Sacred Body all the sins of humanity, from the sins of Adam and Eve, your sins and mine, and all the sins of the world until the very end of time. As Saint Paul says: He became sin.
3) SPIRITUAL. Jesus experienced such intense pain and loneliness that He even experienced a certain sense of abandonment from His Heavenly Father, expressed in these words: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt. 27: 46) In a certain sense, He experienced the plight of the atheists who deny God’s existence, those who commit mortal sins, who live in mortal sin, and who willfully reject God’s love in their lives.
4) LONELINESS AND ABANDONMENT OF HIS BEST FRIENDS. Jesus relished the Friends that He chose, most especially the Apostles. All of these chosen friends, with one exception, abandoned Jesus when He most needed their presence and their friendship. Only Saint John remained present with Jesus at the foot of the cross. Peter denied Him three times; Judas betrayed Jesus and then hanged himself. How much this must have cut and hurt the tender Heart of Jesus!
5) JEWISH HIGH PRIESTS. Jesus came in a special way for the chosen people—the Jews. Sad to say, those who were supposed to be the real experts of the Law and the Mosaic writings criticized Jesus, derided Him, and asked for His Crucifixion and death. How painful it is to be betrayed by your own!
6) THE INDIFFERENCE OF THE CROWD. Many only came to see a spectacle for their own amusement. Many were indifferent and couldn’t care less about Jesus, who He was and how much He indeed suffered. How many today manifest a widespread and appalling coldness and indifference towards the love of Jesus and His sacrifice of love! The words of the Book of the Apocalypse ring true: “You are neither hot nor cold, but you are lukewarm. I will vomit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16)
10. JESUS SUFFERS INTENSELY BUT HAS THREE FAITHFUL FRIENDS. Draw close to the cross and you will contemplate the three faithful friends of Jesus; you might even call them the three lovers of Jesus: Magdalene, Saint John the Evangelist, and Jesus’ Mother, Our Lady of Sorrows. Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen presents three facets or virtues that they embody.
1. Saint Mary Magdalene that of Penitence after having lived a life of much sin. Contemplate the Magdalene with her disheveled hair as she hugs the cross shedding copious tears of sorrow and love for the Lord.
2. Saint John the Evangelist symbolizes or represents the victimhood of the Priesthood. Sheen states: “The priest is the victim who offers the Victim.”
3. The Blessed Virgin Mary represents Innocence. She alone of all human beings is the sinless one! However, above and beyond Innocence, Jesus entrusts Mary to Saint John and she thereby is transformed into the Spiritual Mother of all until the end of time. Really and truly Mary is our Mother.
As you conclude your contemplation of the Passion, suffering and death of Jesus on the cross, turn to Mary and talk to her about all that is going on in your heart, especially related to Jesus’ love for the world, and for you in particular, as He suffers and dies, breathing forth His spirit to His Eternal Father.