FOURTH WEEK OF LENT: SATURDAY
Jesus falls beneath the Cross; Simon carries the Cross after Him.
1st Prelude. Behold Jesus falling three times under the weight of His cross.
2nd Prelude. Ask for grace to follow Him in the way of suffering and humiliation.
POINT I. “And the soldiers led Him into the court of the palace; … and after they had mocked Him, they took off the purple from Him, and put His own garments on Him; and they led Him out to crucify Him, … into the place called Golgotha, which, being interpreted, is the place of Calvary; and with Him they crucify two thieves.”
CONSIDERATION. Let us observe how our Lord, amidst every circumstance of His Passion, is insatiable not merely of sufferings, but of shame and humiliation. He submits to the ignominy of crucifixion in the place where the vilest criminals suffer, in company with two of them, not in borrowed garments, in which He might not have been recognised, but in those which He wore on the day of His triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
APPLICATION. What does our Lord teach us here, we who call ourselves specially His disciples? Not to be ashamed of, but rather to glory in, His livery — that is to say, in contempt, raillery, rebuffs, injuries, and persecutions endured in His service; to rejoice in thus closely resembling our model and Master. How does this agree with your feelings, desires or fears?
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT II. “And, as they led Him away, they laid hold of one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him to carry after Jesus.”
CONSIDERATION. Jesus fatigued and exhausted by fasting, by being hurried from place to place, and by the loss of blood, falls beneath the weight of the cross. Tradition tells us that He fell thrice; twice, gathering up His little remaining strength, He rose and continued His journey, but the third time, the Jews, fearing that He would die upon the way, and that they would thus be deprived of their expected pleasure, forced Simon to bear the cross to the summit of Calvary.
APPLICATION. Does it not seem astonishing that no one out of all that crowd, many of whom had been miraculously healed by Him, came forward to offer to carry our Lord’s cross? Must this not have wounded so tender a heart as that of Jesus; and do not we also wound Him when we refuse to follow Him in the path of suffering and humiliation, out of unfounded fear or human respect?
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT III. “They forced one Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and of Rufus, to take up His cross.”
CONSIDERATION. It seems from these words that Simon at first showed great reluctance to carry our Lord’s cross; but from the fact of the evangelist’s making special mention of his name and that of his two sons, we may believe that, enlightened by divine grace, he bore it as became a true disciple, and was, as well as his children, richly rewarded; and, according to a generally admitted tradition, all three became celebrated in the Church as either bishops or martyrs.
APPLICATION. Let us renew our love and esteem for the cross, the source of our glory and happiness. In the cross is salvation; in the cross is life; in the cross is protection from enemies, says the Imitation. In the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness; in the cross is strength of mind; in the cross is joy of spirit; in the cross is height of virtue; in the cross is perfection of sanctity. There is no health of soul, nor hope of eternal life, but in the cross. Take up, therefore, thy cross and follow Jesus, and thou shalt go into life everlasting.
COLLOQUY with Jesus suffering.