Thursday, 13 March 2014

First Week of Lent: Thursday - Traditional Lenten Meditation

Practical Meditations For Every Day in the Year on the Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ composed chiefly for the Use of Religious by a Father of the Society of Jesus. First translated from the French, 1868. Though primarily intended for Religious, the devout layman will find the Practical Meditations a most serviceable and bracing form of Spiritual Exercise amounting in fact to something like the daily practice of a Retreat.

Jesus is taken captive -- Flight of the Apostles

1st Prelude. Behold the soldiers falling backwards before Jesus, and the Apostles running away.

2nd Prelude. Beg the grace of a faithful attachment to Jesus Christ by the bonds of love.

POINT I. "Jesus, therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth, and said to them, Whom seek ye? They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith to them, I am He. As soon, therefore, as He said to them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground. If, therefore, you seek Me, let these go their way. Then Simon Peter, having a sword drew it, and struck the servant of the high-priest, and cut off his right ear. And the name of the servant was Malchus. But Jesus, having touched his ear, healed it."

CONSIDERATION. Why did Jesus multiply the proofs of his divinity by wonderful miracles at the moment when He began His sorrowful Passion? In order that He might show that He was taken prisoner, bound, and "offered because it was His own will," as Isaias had foretold. Oblatus est quia ipse voluit. If it had not been thus, how would the martyrs have replied to the insult of their tyrants? What folly to adore a God who was put to death by men! And how could they have convinced them that this violent death was not the result of powerlessness, but of the love of Jesus for the human race?

APPLICATION. Let us learn to recognise and appreciate the indulgent goodness of God to men. If He obliges them to believe, with humility, mysteries which they cannot understand, only because He tells them, He helps their belief, not by grace alone, but by the testimony of miracles which appeal to the senses, which He is ready to renew as often as circumstances require it.


POINT II. "Then they took Jesus, and bound Him."

CONSIDERATION. How great was the blindness of the Jews! In spite of the wonderful miracles of goodness and power which they witnessed, they persevered in their criminal intentions -- they dared to lay hands on Jesus. And because He gave Himself up into their hands, they thought that they had conquered. Alas, we often have proof that even miracles are unable to convert the man who indulges his passions. Passion blinds a man, and stifles in him the voice of reason and of conscience. See, on the other hand, the gentleness of Jesus! He lets himself be taken, bound, loaded with fetters, pushed about, struck, and grossly insulted in the way from Gethsemani to the city of Jerusalem.

APPLICATION. The bonds of original sin and our own sin held us captive under the yoke of the devil, and exposed us to Hell. There was no power in men or angels to break our bonds. Jesus Christ alone could, and His love for us made Him do it. He allowed Himself to be loaded with fetters to give us the liberty of the children of God. Do we think often of this? Do we think of it enough?


POINT III. "Then the disciples all leaving Him, fled."

CONSIDERATION. Behold then, the end of the promises and eager protestations of the disciples. All had assured their beloved Master that they were determined never to forsake Him, to go with him to prison and to death. But as soon as they saw Him in the hands of the soldiers, they all, without exception, shamefully forsook Him, and sought their safety in flight. Then were the words of Jesus verified: "All you shall be scandalized in Me this night," meaning they should be unfaithful. Because they saw Him bound and led to prison they lost faith in His divinity, His omnipotence, and forsook Him; "for it is written, I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be dispersed." Such was the fatal consequence of their presumption, and their neglect of gaining strength by prayer before the struggle, as our Divine Saviour had expressly recommended them to do.

APPLICATION. We condemn the inconstancy and cowardice of the Apostles; we blame them for having, by their desertion and flight, so cruelly afflicted the heart of our loving Saviour. But do we not, therefore, condemn ourselves -- we who have been so inconstant, so cowardly in following Jesus -- we who are habitually unfaithful to our promises and resolutions, and that from the same causes to which we attribute the inconstancy and shameful desertion of the Apostles?

COLLOQUY with our Lord.

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