Sixth Week of Lent: Wednesday
Fourth and Fifth Words on the Cross
1st Prelude. Imagine you see Jesus on the cross in the midst of the darkness that overspread the Earth at noon-day.
2nd Prelude. Ask for the grace of love and compunction.
POINT I. "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over the whole Earth until the ninth hour."
CONSIDERATION. This miraculous darkness, mentioned even by contemporary pagan writers, lasted nearly three hours, all nature seeming to mourn its Maker. But the Jews remained unconvinced by this prodigy, as well as by the other extraordinary circumstances attendant on or subsequent to the death of the Messiah, although they had been distinctly foretold by their prophets.
APPLICATION. St. Gregory the Great makes striking reflections upon this excessive blindness. "All the elements," he says, "gave their testimony to their Creator's advent: His birth was announced by a star; the sea became firm beneath His footsteps; the sun grew dark, the earth trembled, and the rocks were rent at His death, whilst those that were in Limbo returned once more to Earth; yet still the Jews, harder than the very rocks, remained obstinate in their unbelief." Alas that there should be Christians who eyes are blinded and their hearts hardened by sin no less deplorably than the Jews!
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT II. "And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani? That is, my God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
CONSIDERATION. These are the words of King David, who in the 21st Psalm, nine centuries before, speaks of the Passion rather as an historian than a prophet. Our Lord used them at this solemn moment to afford the Jews another proof that He was the Messiah predicted by the prophets, and as a proof to us of succeeding generations that His divinity in no degree alleviated the bitterness of His agony.
APPLICATION. "My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?" This plaintive cry of a Son abandoned, it is true, but perfectly resigned to His Father's will, teaches us that His faithful followers must know how to support the withdrawal of sensible consolation, even when we are most earnestly promoting His glory; and also that in these moments of darkness we are not forbidden to cry aloud to our hidden Father, provided our will is entirely in conformity with His good pleasure.
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS
POINT III. "Afterwards Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst."
CONSIDERATION. Our Lord had told the Jews that all that had been uttered by the prophets respecting the Messiah should be exactly accomplished in Him. Thus King David had said in the 28th verse of the 68th Psalm, "In my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." Our Lord accordingly said, "I thirst," knowing that the soldiers would offer Him this bitter beverage. Immediately one of them took a sponge and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed and gave it to Him to drink.
APPLICATION. After having considered the perfect exactness and heroic fidelity with which Our Lord carried out to His last sigh the smallest details regarding Himself of which the prophets had spoken, what ought you to think of your want of care in your daily duties, your infractions of the rule, on the pretext that they are matters of little moment?
COLLOQUY with Our Lord on the Cross.