Meditation on the Passion of Christ - by CARPACCIO, Vittore - from Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
|One of Carpaccio's most-Beautiful Paintings, is this Depiction-of the Old Testament Figure Job (right), and of Saint Jerome (left), as a Hermit Meditating-on the Body-of the Dead Christ. Inscribed in-Hebrew, on the Marble Block where Job sits, are the Words "I know that my Redeemer Liveth". Numerous details 'Underscore' the Theme-of Death and Resurrection: the Bones next-to Job, the Crown-of Thorns propped-up against Christ's Broken Throne, the Small Bird that Flies-upward from-Christ, to Symbolize the Resurrection. Even the Lavishly Painted Landscape carries the Theme, by appearing Desolate on the Left, and Lush and Open, on the Right.|
Jesus Christ Died in-Battle, for us
Greater Love than this, no Man hath,
Maiorem hac dilectionem nemo habet
Some People make Perfection, Consist-in an Austere Life;
|Nota Bene: Bible Verses quoted-in this Book are from the English Douay-Rheims Translation, commissioned-by the Catholic Church.|
Almighty God Knew-that we would be Won-by Kindness, so He 'Determined' to-Lavish His Gifts upon us. He gave us Souls, created-in His Own Image, with Memory, Understanding and Will; as-well-as Bodies with their Senses. He 'Created' Heaven and Earth for us, Yes, everything that exists, out-of Love-for us. He 'Brought' into-Being: the Firmament, the Stars and Planets, the Seas and Rivers, the Mountains and Plains, the Fruits-of the Earth, and a countless Variety-of Animals - all these Useful things - that we might Love Him, in Gratitude-for so-many Admirable Gifts.
But God was not Satisfied-with 'Giving' us so-many Beautiful Things. The Eternal Father did not Hesitate to-Give us even His only-Begotten Son:
And the Son, out of His Love, has given Himself Wholly-to us. Saint Paul speaks of "the Son of God, Who Loved me, and Delivered Himself for me" - Galatians 2:20.
And what is more-Astonishing, is that He could very well have Saved us without Dying, and without Suffering at all.
And why did He 'Choose' to Die? To Show us how-much He Loved us. "And Walk in-Love, as Christ also hath Loved us, and hath Delivered Himself for us, an Oblation and a Sacrifice to God, for an Odor-of Sweetness" - Ephesians 5:2.
Now, in-order-to Arrive-at a Perfect Love for Jesus Christ ─ in-return-for His Astonishing Love for us ─ we must 'Adopt' certain Means. One (1) of these is Devotion-to the Passion-of Jesus Christ. Through Meditation-on His Suffering and Death, we 'Receive': Hope-for Pardon for our Sins, Courage-against Temptation, and Confidence-in the Lord's Promise-of Eternal (∞) Life. It has been most-aptly said that those who do not become Inflamed-with the Love-of-God, by-looking-on Jesus, Dead-upon the Cross, will never Love at all.
Jesus Deserves our Love because of the Love
Jesus 'Embraces' the Cross
So, we have no-Reason to Fear, as-long-as we Detest our Sins. And if we still Fear, because-of Temptations coming-from the World, our Flesh, and the Devil, we should "Look on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of Faith, Who having Joy set before Him, Endured the Cross, Despising the Shame, and now Sitteth-on the Right Hand of the Throne-of-God" - Hebrews 12:2. In the Past, we Fell into Sin because we Left-off Looking-at the Wounds and Pains, Endured-by our Redeemer, and so did not have Recourse-to Him, for-Help. But, if in the Future, we Set-before our Eyes, all He has Suffered for Love-of us, and how He 'Stands', ever-ready to-Help us if we 'Ask', it is certain that we shall not be Conquered-by our Enemies. What Two (2) Great Mysteries-of Hope and Love for us, are the (1) Passion-of Jesus Christ, and the (2) Sacrament-of-the-Altar. This is why we have every-Reason to be Confident, that He will 'Give' us the Graces, necessary-for our Salvation.
"Let us go therefore with-Confidence, to the Throne-of-Grace: that we may obtain Mercy, and find Grace in Seasonable Aid" - Hebrews 4:16. The Throne-of-Grace is the Cross on-which Jesus sits, to 'Dispense' Graces and Mercy, to all who Come-to Him. Unfrightened-by the Sight-of our Miseries, we 'Embrace' the Cross-of Christ, in all-Confidence.
Our Redeemer 'Encourages' us to Hope-for every-Favor and every-Grace, through His Merits. And He Teaches us the Way-to Obtain all we Want:
"Amen, Amen I say to you: if you Ask the Father any thing in My Name, He will Give it to you" - John 16:23.
The Father cannot Refuse, when He has 'Given' us His only-Begotten Son, Whom He Loves as Himself. "He that Spared not even His Own Son, but Delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not also, with Him, Given us all things?" - Romans 8:32.
If we Believe that the Eternal Father has 'Given' us His Son, Who Died-on the Cross, to-Redeem us, we must also Believe that He will 'Give' us Everything-else, that is Infinitely (∞)-less than His Son. And we cannot 'Think', that Jesus Christ is Forgetful-of us, since He has 'Left' us, as the Greatest Memorial and Pledge-of His Love, Himself in the Sacrament-of-the-Altar.
Jesus Christ, as God, has a Right-to All our Love; but because He has 'Proven' His Love for us so-Clearly, He 'Wants' us to Love Him Freely, in Gratitude-for everything He has Done and Suffered, for us. He has Loved us most-Generously, so that we might Love Him Generously, in Return. The First Commandment He gave us, therefore is: "Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with thy Whole Heart, and with thy Whole Soul, and with thy Whole Mind" - Matthew 22:37.
Saint Paul says that "Love therefore, is the Fulfilling of the Law" - Romans 13:10. Instead of Fulfillment, the Greek Text 'Employs' the Phrase "Embracing the Law"; Love Embraces the Whole Law. Who, indeed, when they see their God Crucified-for their Love, can Refuse-to Love Him? Those Thorns, those Nails, that Cross, those Wounds, All 'Call' us and 'Prod' us to-Love Him, Who has Loved us so-much.
One (1) Heart is too-Small, to-Love a God, Who is so-much in-Love with us. In-order-to 'Repay' the Love of Jesus Christ, another God would have to Die for His Love. Saint Paul tells us Clearly: "And Christ Died for All; that they also who Live, may not now Live-to themselves, but unto Him Who Died-for them, and Rose again" - 2Corinthians 5:15.
Our Indifference to God's Love
Jesus Christ 'Desires' that we continually 'Recall' His Passion. How it must Sadden Him that we are so-Unmindful of it. If we were to-'Endure' Contempt, Injury, and Imprisonment for One-of our Friends, how Painful it would be, if that Friend never gave it a Thought, again. On the other-hand, how Grateful we would be, if this Friend constantly Spoke-of it with the Warmest Gratitude, and Thanked us often. So it is Pleasing-to Jesus Christ, when we Remember-with Gratitude and Love, the Sorrows and Death that He 'Endured', for us.
The Old Testament Prophets 'Yearned'-for Jesus Christ, even before He came-into the World. How much more should we 'Yearn' to Love Him, now that He has Actually come-here on-Earth ─ Suffering and even Dying-on the Cross, out of Love for us.
This, too, is why He 'Instituted' the Sacrament-of-the-Holy-Eucharist, and 'Told' us, that as-often-as we were Nourished-with His Most Sacred Body, we should 'Remember' His Death. With Reason, then, the Church 'Reminds' us of this Wonderful Sacrament, when She sings: "O Sacred Banquet in which Christ is Received (and) the Memory of His Passion is Renewed".
O Sacrum Convivium
O Sacred Banquet,
in which Christ is Received,
the Memory of His Passion is Recalled,
the Soul is Filled-with Grace,
and the Pledge-of Future Glory, is Given-to us.
So we can see how Pleasing-to Jesus Christ, are those who Meditate frequently-on His Passion. By doing this, they keep in Grateful Memory, all that He Suffered for us, and they continue-to grow-in Love for Him.
How can we Refuse-to Love this God, Who has done so-much, to be Loved by us? Before the Incarnation, we might have Doubted, whether God's Love for us, was Real. But after the 'Advent' of the Son-of-God, and after His Death for our Love, how can we Possibly-doubt His Love?
To Redeem us, Jesus used every Manner-of-Means, to make us Love Him. If He had Deemed-that Death-alone, was Sufficient-for our Salvation, it would have been enough for Him to have been Killed-by Herod, with the other Children. But no, He 'Chose' instead to-Lead a Life-of Suffering, for Thirty-three (33) Years, before He Died. During that Time, He appeared-as a Poor Child born-in a Stable; then as a young Boy, Helping-in the Workshop; and finally as an Adult 'Criminal'; Executed-on a Cross. But before He actually Died, He 'Experienced' numerous-Sufferings, each of which were meant to-'Draw' us closer-to Him.
First, we see Him Agonizing in the Garden, Bathed-from Head-to-Foot, in a Sweat-of Blood. Afterward, we see Him in the Court-of Pilate, Torn-with the Scourges and Treated-as a mock-King, with a Crown-of-Thorns on His Head. Then, we see Him Dragged-Publicly through the Streets, to His Death. And Finally, we see Him on Calvary, Hanging-from the Cross by Three (3) Iron Nails.
Does He then 'Deserve' our Love or not, this God Who has 'Chosen' to-Endure these Sufferings, and to 'Use' so-many Means, to 'Win' our Love.
A Precious-thing is Love. It is the Queen-of all Virtues; it Unites (1) us with God. And Sacred Scripture 'Assures' us, that God Loves whoever Loves Him. Those who Abide-in Love, Abide-in God, and God in them ("God is Charity: and he that Abideth-in Charity, Abideth-in God, and God in him" - 1John 4:4:16). Love, moreover, Gives us the Strength to-Do and to-Suffer, everything for God.
Here is what Saint-John-Chrysostom says are the Effects-of Divine Love, in those whom it Possesses:
When the Love-of-God, has taken Possession-of Beloved Souls; it Produces an Unquenchable Desire to Work-for the Beloved. No matter how-Great the Work they do, or how-Long their Service, all seems Nothing-in their Eyes, and they Suffer because they are doing so-little for God. They would be Happy, if they were Allowed-to Die, and Consume themselves for Him. And so they Consider themselves Unprofitable Servants, in everything they do, because Love Teaches them how-much God Deserves, and they see in this Radiant Light, all the Defects-of their Actions, and find them Reason-for Confusion and Pain. They are Well Aware-of how Poor, all their Efforts, when Compared-to those of so-Great a God.
Saint-Francis-de-Sales also Tells us:
All Holiness, Consists-in Loving God with our Whole Heart, because all other Virtues, without Love, are a mere Heap-of-Stones. And if we do not completely-Enjoy this Holy Love, the Fault lies-with us, because we have not, once and for all, made the Decision-to give ourselves completely-to God.
"But one thing is Necessary" - Luke 10:42. It is not-Necessary to be Rich in this World, to-Gain the Respect of others, to-Lead a Life of-Comfort, to-Relish Honors, or to have a Reputation-for Knowledge. It is only Necessary to-Love God, and to-do His Will. This is the only Reason He 'Creates' us and 'Preserves' us in-Life, and this is the only-Way, we can Merit Heaven.
Our only Concern, then, should be to-Grow in a True Love of Jesus Christ, which Masters-of the Spiritual Life, have Described-in the following manner:
Love is Fearful; its only Fear is of Displeasing God.
Love is Generous; Trusting-in God, it is never Disheartened, even when 'Facing' Tremendous Odds that seem to-hinder God's Glory.
Love is Strong; it Subdues the Lower Appetites, even in the Midst-of the most-Violent Temptations, and the Darkest Desolations.
Love is Obedient; it Immediately carries-out the Divine Will.
Love is Pure; it Loves God alone, and for the Sole Reason that He 'Deserves' to be Loved.
Love is Ardent; it Wants to-Inflame the Whole World, with Divine Love.
Love is Inebriating; it 'Transports' Persons, outside-of themselves, so that they become completely Concerned-with Loving God.
Love is Unitive; it 'Blends' the Will-of the Creature, with the Will-of the Creator.
Love is Desirous; it Pills Persons with-Yearnings, to-Unite themselves Perfectly with-God, so that they can Love Him, with all their Strength.
But no one 'Teaches' us so-well, the Real Practice-of Charity, as the Great Preacher-of Charity, Saint Paul. In his First (1st) Epistle to the Corinthians, he Tells us:
"If I should have all-Faith, so-that I could Remove Mountains, and have not Charity, I am Nothing. And if I should Distribute all my Goods to-Feed the Poor, and if I should Deliver my Body to be Burned, and have not Charity, it Profiteth me Nothing"
- 1Corinthians 13:2-3.
Then Saint Paul shows us the Signs-of True Charity, and at the same time, Teaches us the Practice-of those Virtues, which are the Daughters-of Charity:
"Charity is Patient, is Kind: Charity Envieth-not, Dealeth-not Perversely; is not Puffed-up; is not Ambitious, Seeketh-not her own, is not Provoked to Anger, Thinketh no-Evil; Rejoiceth-not in Iniquity, but Rejoiceth-with the Truth; Beareth all-things, Believeth all-things, Hopeth all-things, Endureth all-things"
- 1Corinthians 13:4-7.
In the following Chapters, we will consider the Holy Practice-of Charity, so that we may see whether the Love-of Jesus Christ, really 'Possesses' us. We will Strive-to find-out, what Virtues we should Practice, in-order-to Continue making-Progress, in this Holy Love.