Reflections on the Passion — Holy Thursday, Good Friday

Arising From Sleep

I recently heard that a Traditional-minded person read a work by a great saint that left no doubt in his mind that the position held on this site concerning jurisdiction is the position taught by the Church Herself. While I thank God for the grace He has given this person to see the truth clearly, it is regrettable to observe that despite over 25 years of repeating this truth in numerous ways and places, so few have actually decided that this indeed is the teaching of the Church.
During our good Friday devotions, please pray that our Lord, in His Passion, has mercy on those who are yet in error concerning this and many other Church teachings. Ask Him that, like his Apostles in the meditations below, all may rise from the sleep of error and unbelief to the penetrating light of eternal truth.
T. Benns
Reflections on the Passion — Holy Thursday, Good Friday
Fr. Hugo Doyle
NIHIL OBSTAT:
JOANNES A. SCHULIEN, S.T.D.
Censor liborium
IMPRIMATOR:
+ ALBERTUS G.MEYER
Archiepiscopus Milwauchiensis
October 12, 1956
Introduction
“Love moves and governs all things. Tell me what you love, and I shall tell you what you are. If your love is for the world, you are its slave. If your love is for Jesus Christ, you are free; you are becoming conformed to His image; your conversation, that is your life and conduct even here below, are continually in heaven.
Jesus Christ is alone worthy of your whole heart. But you cannot love Him if you do not know that “God so lived the world as to give His only –begotten Son,” that He emptied Himself out,” and that He laid down His life for His flock.” We must know the details of His sufferings, if we would know the excess of His love.
This little volume – REFLECTIONS ON THE PASSION — was written for just this purpose. It should provide the laity with short, pointed considerations for quiet prayer, the religious, with ready material for personal and profitable meditation, and the clergy, with suitable matter before-Mass reading to the faithful or for sermon seeds for Lenten courses.
IT is related that King Louis XIV of France, shortly after his ascent to the throne, stood at an open window in his palace and silently admired the simple beauty of the church of St. Denis, standing some distance away. A servant ventured to remark that all of the king’s ancestors laid buried in that church and that, doubtless, it would also be His Majesty’s last resting place. The very nest day the king ordered another palace built so that the Church of St. Denis would be hidden from his view.
Holy Mother the Church is much more realistic. She has her priests bless ashes, and then place some of these ashes on the foreheads of her children, saying at the same time, “Remember, man, thou art but dust, and into dust thou shalt return.”
Sin and death go together. Because Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they had to submit to this dreadful penalty, and in like manner, all their descendants. To remind us of this grim fact, the Church places ashes on the foreheads of her children on each Ash Wednesday, saying, “Remember, man, thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return.”
There is still another death which the Church would remind us of today – the death of our vices and concoupiscences through mortification and penance. The word mortification comes from two Latin words meaning “To make death”; and so in asking us to mortify ourselves during Lent, the church begs us to deaden our appetites and passions by discipline so that we might live supernatural lives.
The imposition of ashes, then, is not only symbolic of death, but of penance and mortification too. Since there would be no death if there had not been sin, so there can be no supernatural life without mortification and penance. The ashes should remind us, since holy men like Job and David associated ashes with penance, and the Church has been doing the same for almost 2000 years.
So you see, life, death, mortification, penance, are all brought to our minds by the simple but deeply meaningful ceremony of the imposition of the blessed ashes. Could a more a more effective way be found to signify the beginning of the penitential season of Lent? The external application of ashes to our forheads will be useless and meaningless unless and until we resolve in our hearts to use the forty days ahead to do penance in reparation for our past failures and practice mortification to condition our souls and bodies for the struggle ahead.
Spend some time today in considering the fact that you will sooner or later die and that everyone and everything you hold near and dear to you must be left behind. “To fear death before it comes,” says St. Gregory, “is to conquer it when it comes.”
Say often this prayer of David: “O Lord, make me know my end, and what is the number of my days that I may know what is wanting in me” (Ps. 38:5).
Thursday After Quinquagesima Sunday: TRUE devotion in its highest meaning includes love for, and imitation of, the person to whom we are devoted, and Holy Mother the church presents our prayerful devotion during Lent the Sacred Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, with fervent hope that we shall be aroused to imitate Him.
“We should,” writes Father Degnam, S.J., “go through the different circumstances of the Passion, and compare them with the occasions of sufferings we meet with in life. They are the drops of the chalice which our Lord asks us to drink with Him. His sufferings of the scourging, our physical pain; He is treated as a fool by Herod; He was rejected for Barabbas; are we not sometimes rejected for another – set aside for some one who is certainly more worthy than ourselves? Is not the gall they gave Him to drink like the bitterness we receive when we are longing for consolation? As we look at the dead body of our Lord hanging on the Cross, we see that His Passion was one long act of submission.”
Gratitude should fill our hearts at the thought of God’s goodness in giving us His own adorable Son as a model to imitate, so that we have only to look at Him to know what we have to do. Hear Christ Himself say: “I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you also should do” (Jn. 13:15). Christ is the only way we must follow, especially in the practice of virtue, and it was during the Passion that His practice of the virtues was strikingly sublime and heroic. In the most trying circumstances our Lord gave us during the Passion examples of those virtues we somehow seem to lack – meekness, mercy, charity, silence, patience, abandonment, and obedience to His Father’s will – even to death.
Well did St. Bonaventure say: “He who desires to go on advancing from virtue to virtue, from grace to grace should constantly meditate on the Passion of Jesus Christ.” …
Try to see the virtue practiced by the Master and resolve to imitate that virtue. Strive to find some lesson in each of these daily considerations and resolve to put it in practice during the day. In your examination of conscience at night, examine yourself on how you kept the resolution taken that morning. Little good will result from the study of the Passion unless such a study results in our imitation of Christ. “O foolish Galatians!” cried out St. Paul, “who has bewitched you [that you should not obey the truth], before whose eyes Jesus has been depicted crucified?” (Ga. 3:1)
At the Last Supper, Christ gathered the Apostles around Him and they set out together for Gethesemani, the Garden of the Agony. The name “Gethsemani” is interesting in that it means “oilpress”; in other words, it was a place where the fresh olives were pressed and the oil extracted. What a symbolic spot chosen by the Sacred Redeemer of Mankind for the initial and awful beginning of the Passion! Here He was to take upon Himself the sins of the world and be so crushed under their terrible weight that His precious blood flowed from every pore of His body.
With reverence, then, and with contrite hearts let us begin our contemplation of the passion of our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemani and pray that your heart and soul will be inflamed with love and aroused to imitate all the virtues practiced by the Savior in His Passion. Decide now on one positive act of mortification to be practiced this very day, recalling these words of the Imitation of Christ: “The more thou dost violence to thyself, the greater thy progress will be.” Tomorrow we shall see our Lord separating Peter, James, and John from the other apostles and taking them with Him into the midst of the garden. Thus shall we begin our study of the Passion.
Gesthemani
OUR BLESSED LORD had designedly planned that Peter, James, and John should be afforded but a glimpse of His divinity when it burst forth on the occasion of His Transfiguration. Now in the Garden of Olives these same Apostles would see their Lord and their God bent and crushed under the weight of sin. The thought of the Transfiguration would have to strengthen them in this hour of disillusionment.
The apostles had always known our Lord to be composed in the face of attack or crisis. For instance, when the elements of nature tossed their fishing boats until they, hardened fishermen though they were, quaked with fear, Jesus was calm and unafraid; but in the Garden of Gethsemani they were to see this same Christ prostrate on the ground bathed in a sweat of blood. That which made up the very anguish of Gethsemani was the fact that Christ, at that moment, took upon Himself the sins of the world – past, present, and future.But why had Christ invited the Apostles to accompany Him in the Garden of Olives? Well, as He entered the darkness, He may have craved human companionship. It was not that the Apostles could do anything for Him, but that their very presence would support Him. Too, He wanted to teach them some important lessons.
The first lesson was this, that when one is oppressed, discouraged, heartbroken, and forsaken, he should pray. That is what our Lord did. He was afraid. He was overwhelmed by the sins of mankind, His Apostles, His closest friends, fell asleep – yet He prayed. Always remember what our Lord told His weak apostles when he awakened them the first time: “Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mt. 26:41).
The second lesson was equally apparent. While Christ’s closest friends were asleep as He went through the initial phases of the Passion, His enemies were very much awake. At that very moment Judas was briefing the soldiers on where to find Christ and how to apprehend Him. The soldiers were getting themselves ready to arrest the Son of God.
So it has always been, and always will be – the enemies of your soul and mine, the enemies of Christ and His Church never sleep. They are always more vigilant, more energetic, more active then we are.
Resolve today to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and let the picture of Christ in the Garden of Olives come to your mind. Approach your prostrate King – promise Him to do some positive penance for the sins you have committed. Ask Him to teach you this important lesson – that when doubts, trials, sorrows, and temptations assail you, you, following His example, you will pray, pray, pray.
OUR LORD had suffered a terrible ordeal in His initial phase of trial in the Garden of Olives. He had, some thirty-three years earlier, taken on the burden of human nature, Now in this fateful garden, Christ took on the awful burden of man’s sins, and He rightly looked to His closest friends to share His burden in return, if only by compassion. They failed Him. They slept. Oh how the words of the prophet were fulfilled: “I looked for one that would grieve together with me, and there was none; for one that would comfort me, and I found none” (Ps. 68:21).
Note that our Lord goes back a second time to pray. This time He is even more alone then before. He prays to His heavenly Father, and his heavenly Father turns a deaf ear to His petition. His Apostles are sleeping again, and yet he prays alone. He is now in a state of supreme desolation and yet He prays. He is in a state of complete dereliction but He prays on. Learn from this lesson to pray even under the most adverse circumstances.
Consider the fact that Christ persevered in His prayer. Already He prayed to His Father saying: “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me” (Mt. 26:30).The second prayer of our Lord was a repetition of the first, for He said: “My Father, if this cup cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done” (Mt.26:42).
The third prayer was couched in the same words – a prayer more fervent, more earnest then any uttered by any man who ever lived on this earth – yet His Father, it seemed, did not listen to His petition. Christ did not grow impatient, He calmly and resignedly adds: “Not My will but Thine be done” (Lk. 22:42).
What a great lesson in this for all of us! If the son of God must plead three times for the fulfillment of His prayer, and does so without a trace of bitterness, why are we so depressed when our prayers are not immediately answered? St. Monica prayed for eighteen years for her son Augustine’s conversion, but how richly her perseverance was rewarded. “We wait a whole year,” says St. Francis de Sales, “before the seed we sow in the ground bears fruit; and are we more impatient in regard to the fruits of our prayers?”
There is great consolation for all of us in the refusal of the Father to hear the petition of His adorable son. God the Father refused the most perfect, the most precious prayer ever uttered on this earth – but he did so to prove His love for sinful man. For the sake of sinful man He will not answer the prayer of His own Son, because had God acted otherwise, we would have all been lost. See the reason behind God’s refusal to answer our prayers – He always has the greater good in view: From now on, never complain if your prayers are unanswered. Just keep right on praying. Say your rosary today for the grace of perseverance
OUR consideration of the triple prayer of our Blessed Lord in the Garden of Olives should have convinced us of the merit and necessity of continued prayer when we are afraid, downcast, depressed, tempted, or forsaken.
There were numerous other occasions when Christ addressed His petitions to His eternal Father and the response was immediate. The raising of Lazarus is a case in point. In the Garden of Olives, however, the Master prayed three times and His prayer was unanswered. We have seen that had God the Father answered Christ’s prayer and “let the cup pass away” from Him, the world might not have redeemed. When God does not answer prayer it is for the greater good.
In the Old Testament we read that the prophet Elias, when he asked God to confound the pagan prophets of Baal by a miracle, hardly had spoken his prayer when a miraculous fire came down from heaven and consumed a holocaust set on the altar, and even burned water in the trench. When the same prophet Elias prayed for rain for God’s people, he had to repeat his prayer not once, twice, or three times, but seven times (Kings 18:44).When God refuses to answer prayer it is for a greater good. When He delays the answer it is to put the endurance of the suppliant to a test.
The Jews in Bethulia prayed all night, desiring the help of the God of Israel when Holofernes besieged their city, but the more they prayed, the more desperate the situation appeared. Yet they persevered, and God sent them a deliverer in Judith.
Another important lesson which we can learn from our Lord’s prayer in Gethsemani is this, that all our petitions to God should close with in acquiescence to the divine will. Hear our Lord say in the depths of His agony – “Not my will but thine be done” (Lk. 22:42).
It is right for us to plead earnestly for what we want – earnestly, perseveringly, but never insubmissively. We should recognize that God will not give us what will do more harm than good. Many of us have lived long enough to thank God that He did not give us what we asked in prayer in every instance. The best thing possible for us is always what God wills for us. Sometimes it may be pain, worldly loss, or some bereavement; yet His will is always love, and in simple acquiescence to God’s will, we shall always find our highest good. No prayer, therefore, is pleasing to God which does not end with the refrain of Gethsemani: “Not my will but Thine be done.”
This is the way to peace, for as we yield with love and joy, and merge our will with God’s His peace will flow like a river into our souls. Resolve that each time today you hear a clock strike the hour, you will say reverently, “Not my will but Thine be done.”
CHRIST prayed three times in the Garden of Olives. After each prayer was finished, and the words of those three prayers, by the way, were nearly identical, the Master went back to His Apostles, and in each instance He found them asleep.
Between the first and second sessions of prayer our Lord uttered a powerful warning, for He said to the drowsy disciples: “Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mt. 26:41).
“Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation” is a powerful warning that no man should disregard. In wartime it is not unusual to find a soldier court-martialed and summarily executed for falling asleep at his post. Life is a constant warfare against the legions of hell, and we must be ever watchful against sudden attacks from the enemy. But to watch alone is not enough. A sentinel posted on the walls, when he perceives the enemy gathering for an attack, would be foolhardy indeed, to presume to engage the enemy singlehanded. The wise soldier would send word to his commanding officer of the enemy’s approach. Watchfulness lies in observing the imminent approach of the enemy and prayer is the telling of it to God. Watchfulness without prayer is presumption, and prayer without watchfulness is a mockery.
The great Abbot John remarked that a man who is asleep at the foot of a tree and sees a wild animal coming toward him, will most certainly climb up into the tree to save himself. “So we,” says the Abbot, “when we perceive ourselves beset with temptations, ought to climb up to heaven and by the help of prayer, retire safely into the bosom of God.”
The saints have taught that short prayers are more effective in time of temptation. St. Athanasius, for instance, taught that the opening phrase of the sixty-seventh psalm produced miraculous effects for those who used it in time of temptation. Here are the words: “Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered, and let those that hate Him fly before His face.” Note well, that our Lord did not tell His disciples to be relieved of temptation altogether, but rather that they “enter not into temptation.” God tempts no man, but He permits us to be tempted so to prove ourselves. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been tried, he will receive the crown of life” (James 1:12). St. Bernard, explaining these inspired words of St. James, says: “it is necessary that temptations should happen, for who shall be crowned but he that shall lawfully have fought, and how shall a man fight, if there be none to attack him?”
Be undeceived – position, piety, or experience will not spare you temptations. Adam fell when he was in the state of grace and Peter fell soon after his first Holy Communion.
Resolve today to make use of the holy names of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the very outset of temptation. Try to commit the first sentence of the Psalm 67 to heart, and promise yourself to make use of it as soon as you discern the approach of any temptation.
AS CHRIST ended His third prayer in the Garden of Gethsemani, He lay prostrate on the ground horribly shaken by the whole ordeal. The one thing He prayed for was not granted Him, but Holy Scripture relates that, “there appeared to him an angel from heaven to strengthen him” (Lk 22:43). It was an angel from heaven who announced to His mother Mary that she had been chosen to fulfill a creature’s greatest service to her God. When men refused the Son of God recognition on this earth, angels filled the skies to announce Him and sing His glories. When cruel men sought His life in infancy, an angel directed the Holy Family to the safety of Egypt. When He was tempted in the desert: “Behold angels came and ministered to him” (Mt. 4:11). Little wonder that when He was in agony in the Garden of Olives an angel should succor Him.
It is well to note that Christ’s prayer was not answered in the way he desired. He had prayed the first time that the chalice might pass from Him. It did not pass but His strength was increased. He prayed the second time for relief from His burden, but while the burden was increased His strength was augmented to match it. Christ prayed the third time, saying the selfsame words He had spoken on the two previous occasions. His agony did not cease but He found the courage “to pray the more earnestly” (Lk. 22:43). Learn from this that when God seems most deaf to our pleadings in prayer, He may prefer to make heroes of us. Be assured that in times of temptation, and trial, God’s angels will ever be at our side to comfort, encourage, and succor us.
Seize this occasion to bolster your devotion to the angels, and in a special way, to St. Michael. St. Alphonsus Liguori says: “Devotion to St. Michael is a sign of predestination.” In the year 1751, St. Michael appeared to an illustrious servant of God, Antonia d’Astonae, a Carmelite in Portugal. He expressed the wish that she should publish for his honor nine salutations corresponding to the nine choirs of angels. It was to consist of a Pater and three Aves in honor of each of the angelic hierarchies and then four Paters, the first in his honor, the second for the honor of St. Gabriel, the third for St. Raphael, and the last for the Guardian Angel. As a reward the glorious prince of the celestial court promised:
“Whoever would practice this devotion in his honor would have when approaching the Holy Table, an escort of nine angels chosen from each one of the nine choirs.” In addition, for the daily recital of these nine salutations he promised his “continual assistance and that of all the holy angels during life, and after death deliverance from purgatory for themselves and their relations.”
In time of temptation call upon the holy angels and archangels to defend and protect you. Never let a day go by without a special petition to the heavenly choirs – especially your guardian angel.
IN THE Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, our Blessed Lord’s body was bathed in light and His divinity burst through the frail human bonds that were united to it. In the Garden of Gethsemani, the human body of the Son of God was bathed in bloody sweat that rushed from every pore. Once the angel had strengthened our Lord, the transformation was amazing. From that moment on to the end of the Passion, we shall never see Him falter, for even one moment. He had strength for Himself and strength for all of those who came to Him or crossed His path.
The moment the third prayer was ended, Holy Scripture notes that Christ went to His disciples and said: “Sleep on now, and take your rest! It is enough; the hour has come” (Mk. 14:41). The time for watching was past. Christ had passed through His agony, and on his adorable face was the radiance of peace and the fire of zeal. No longer did He need the help or the sympathy which in vain He had sought in the darkness. He looked toward the city gate, and there was the traitor coming. There was neither need or use now for the disciples’ waking and watching, and they might as well sleep on. The lesson is plain. Whatever we do for our friends, we must do when they are in need of help. If one is sick, the time to show sympathy is while the illness continues. If we allow him to pass through this illness without showing him any attention, there is little use, when he is well again, for us to offer kindness.
When one of our friends is passing through some sore struggle with temptation, then is the time for us to come close to him and put the strength of our love under his weakness. Of what use is our help when the battle has been fought through to the end and won without us? Or suppose the friend was not victorious; that he failed – failed because no one came to help him, is there any use in our hurrying up to him then to offer assistance?
It was Ruskin who once wrote these words: “Such help as we can give to each other in this world is a debt we owe to each other; and the man who perceives superiority or a capacity in a subordinate, and neither confesses nor assists it, is not merely the withholder of kindness, but the committer of evil. If we are inclined to criticize the weakness of the Apostles in sleeping rather then comforting their Lord and their God in His hour of agony, do we not do a simulate deed when we withhold help and consolation from our neighbor. “As long as you did not do it for one of these least ones, you did not do it for me.”
(Mt. 25:44). Let us always see Christ in our neighbor and this very day make a real effort to be a support, comfort, and defense of someone who needs our help – spiritual or temporal. Never let the sun set any day without having done one charitable act for a neighbor. Remember always these words of Holy Scripture: “that one’s neighbor should be loved as oneself is a greater thing than all the holocausts and sacrifices.
THE ordeal of Gethsemani now over, our Blessed Lord walks with sort of a triumph toward His sleeping Apostles. Three times He had counseled them to pray, three times He had asked them to watch with Him and three times the Apostles had failed Him.
Just anger had surged through Christ when He took a rope and drove the money-changers from the temple, because they dishonored His Father’s house. His closest friends who, a few short hours earlier, had received their first Holy Communion, had failed Him, and failed Him badly in His hour of need – surly He would have been justified had He upbraided them. But no. The gentle Christ walked over to where they took their rest, and simply said: “Rise, let us go” (Mk. 14:42). Oh, the hope springs up from those words!
The disciples had failed sadly in one great duty – they had slept when the Master wanted them to watch with Him. They slept at their post. He had just told them that they might as well sleep on, so far as that service was concerned, for the time to render it was gone forever. Yet there were other duties before them, and Jesus calls them to arise and meet these. Because they had failed in one hour’s responsibility they must not sink down in despair. They must arouse themselves to meet the responsibilities that lay ahead of them.
What a consoling lesson for all of us. Because we have failed in one duty, or many duties, we must not give up in despair. Because a young man or woman has wasted youth, he or she must not therefore lose heart and think the loss of youth is irreparable. The golden years can never be recalled – the innocence, the beauty, the power may have slipped through our fingers – but why should we squander all because we squandered some? Because the morning has been thrown away, why should all the day be lost?
The lesson Christ taught at the end of His agony in Gethsemani is for all who have failed in any way. Christ ever calls to hope. He bids us rise again from the worst defeats. With Christ there is always margin enough to start again and build a noble life. Right down to the doorway of death there is time. Paul persecuted the Church, but died for it. The door of opportunity opened to the penitent thief on the cross in his dying hour. So it is always. In this world, blessed by divine love and grace, there is never the need to despair. The call after every defeat or failure still is, and always will be, “Rise, let us go.”
Strive every day to make acts of faith, hope, and charity. Today let us beg for an increase of the virtue of hope.
WHEN our Lord was saying to His Apostles: “Rise, let us go,” He added these painful words: ”He who will betray me is at hand” (Mk. 14:43). St. John gives us a few more details for he writes: “Now Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place, since Jesus had often met there together with his disciples, Judas, then, taking his cohort, and the attendants from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, and torches, and weapons” (Jn. 18: 2-4).
The story of Judas is perhaps the saddest in all of the Bible. The Evangelists seem fascinated with that name Judas and when they have occasion to pen it, they call him either “Judas, one of the twelve” or “the traitor” or as we have seen St. John do, in the quote above, “Judas, who betrayed Him.” The thought that one of their number could stoop to such a villainous act inflicts them with a personal shame.
Any way you look at it, the story of the betrayal shows new evil each time you read it. Going out from the supper table, Judas had hastened to the priests and was quickly on his way with a band of soldiers. He probably hurried back to the upper room, where he had left Jesus: not finding Him there, he knew well with the Master had gone, and hastened to the sacred place of prayer – Gethsemani – where Jesus had often retired for prayer.
Then in the manner in which he left the officers know which of the company was Jesus shows the deepest blackness of all. Under the guise of close friendship – Judas kissed Christ – with feigned warmth and affection. It would be salutary for each of us to remember always how the treason in the heart of Judas grew. In the beginning, it was greed and money, then followed theft and falseness of life, ending at last, in the blackest crime this world has ever seen. The fact that such a fall as that of Judas began with small infidelities which grew and grew into a heinous crime should teach us the danger of committing venial sins. The Holy Ghost warns us that “he that contemneth little things, shall fall by little and little” (Eccles. 19:1).
A picture in the royal gallery of Brussels represents Judas wandering about in the night after the betrayal. He comes by chance upon the workmen who have been making the cross upon which Christ shall be crucified the next day. A fire nearby throws its full light on the faces of the workmen, who are sleeping peacefully, while resting from their labors. Judas’ face is somewhat in the shade, but it is wonderfully expressive of awful remorse and agony as he catches sight of the cross and the tools used to make it – the cross which his treachery made possible. Judas did not fall into one great sin, he began with lesser sins, and they paved the way to his great disaster.
St. John Chrysostom said this of venial sins: ”I maintain that the small sins require to be avoided with more care then the more grievous ones, for the grievous ones of their very nature stir up our attention against them; whereas, the lesser sins from the fact of their being insignificant in comparison, are not noticed.” The devil is so cunning. He knows he could not induce a virtuous person to fall onto great sin because of the horror it inspires. What does he do? He proposes a venial offense: now one, now another until he gets the soul into an evil habit, for he knows the end result. Satan knows Scripture too, and can prove it from what he has been able to accomplish by making persons desire at first, venially sinful things. Scripture says: “He that is unjust in that which is little will be unjust in that which is great” (Eccles. 19:1).
Pray earnestly today for grace to avoid venial sins. Examine your conscience daily on your commission of venial sins and resolve to do your earnest to avoid them.
THE kiss of Judas will ever remain the ultimate in base treachery. The name Judas has such a special odium that no one in his right mind would give that name to an infant. It is reserved for the foulest deed one can perform against a friend, a family, a nation, or a society. The act of kissing performed by Judas on the greatest Friend mankind ever had, beggars man’s power of description. Oh, horrible perfidy!
It is related in Holy Scripture that one of the general in David’s army named Joab perpetrated a foul deed, in that upon meeting Anasa, who also commanded an army, he stooped forward to kiss him and at that very moment thrust a dagger into his side and killed him. Solomon, David’s famous son, when he succeeded to the throne, had Joab slain for his treachery.
Note how much more evil was Judas’ act of treachery than was Joab’s. Joab with a treacherous kiss murdered a fellow man; Judas by his kiss paved the way for the death of the Son of God. Joab on the other hand dispatched his victim in one quick thrust; Judas by his awful deed set the stage for the torture and painful death of his Lord and God.
It is related that when the assassins of Julius Caesar fell upon him with their daggers, the great conqueror of men and nations stood motionless, displaying not the slightest sign of emotion or fear. When Brutus, whom Caesar loved with the affection of a father, also approached and drew his dagger to strike his great benefactor, that blow caused Caesar more pain then all the other wounds, and he could not refrain from uttering the now famous words: “Thou too, Brutus, my son!” If Caesar was pained by the baneful treachery of his friend Brutus, how must the Son of God felt when one of His own disciples betrayed Him to His enemies by a kiss. Might the Master not have said: “You too, Judas, My son! Is this what I have merited for My kindness to you? Did I not choose you to be My follower, disciple, and apostles? Did I not wash your feet? Did I not give you My Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity as a food? Oh thankless, heartless Judas!”
Look into your heart today and see if you have even betrayed your Master by mortal sin. Each time you prefer creatures to Christ you betray Him.. Each time you choose sin to Christ’s law, you betray Him. Spend some time today quietly thinking over the picture of Judas pressing his lips to those of the sinless Christ. If you identify yourself in Judas, throw yourself quickly into the arms of your God and beg His pardon.
WE NOTED in our last consideration that daggers were used to murder Julius Caesar. The effect was just as tragic as if the murders had used swords. The smallness of the instrument did not lessen the effects. In like manner, it must be said of Judas that he did not lay violent hands on Christ when he met Him in the Garden of Olives. No, he did not seize or strike the Sacred Redeemer – he simply kissed Him, but that kiss was more tragic than if he had thrust a sword into the Sacred Heart of Christ.
Christ had been kissed before, but my, how different were the circumstances and results! First, there were the kisses of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. Who can number the fond caresses that Mary must have showered on the Infant Jesus as she nurtured and fondled Him in her pure maternal arms? How often must not St. Joseph have covered the Infant Countenance with tender paternal affection?
Second, may we not conjecture that the Magi embraced the tiny Infant as Mary formally presented the Infant God to the first of the Gentiles who came to pay Him homage? Certainly, the act would be normal if not imperative.
Third, it can hardly be imagined that the Holy Simeon and Anna present at the presentation in the temple, could have held the adorable Child of promise in their arms and not pressed their holy lips to the pink little hands of the long-sought Messias.
Fourth, we are certain from the text of Holy Scripture itself that the public sinner Mary Magdalen imprinted the kiss of contrite sorrow on the sacred feet of Christ, and arose from the encounter holier and greater then when she stooped to embrace her God.
Fifth, we are told that the great St. John the beloved disciple rested his youthful head on the breast of the Master at the Last Supper. There is a Persian fable of piece clay made fragrant by lying on a rose: the perfume of the rose passed into the clay. So it was with John. He crept unto the bosom of the Master and his Master’s spirit of love and gentleness passed into his life and transformed it.
Last, we have the awful picture of Judas pressing his lips to those of the Son of God, feigning friendship.
The lesson here is powerful. Those who approached Christ in love and veneration, in true penance and firm resolve, left His embrace renewed and strengthened. Those like Judas, whose hearts are turned toward evil, may be may be very near Christ and not be holy in character. Judas was three years with Christ, heard His words, lived in the atmosphere of His love and remained unchanged. An empty bottle, hermetically sealed, may lie long in the ocean and continue to be dry within. A heart sealed to Christ’s love may rest on His bosom for years and not be blessed. Only when pure or contrite heart is opened to receive His grace, does closeness to Him sanctify.
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2 thoughts on “Reflections on the Passion — Holy Thursday, Good Friday

  1. What wonderful thoughts, not only for Lent and Passion time, but for every second of our lives. Thank you for sharing this, Teresa

  2. Hi fellow viewers of Teresa’s site,

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