FIFTH WEEK OF LENT: WEDNESDAY
Jesus crucified between two Thieves
1st Prelude. Behold Jesus lying on the cross, and the executioners who nail Him to it by the strokes of their hammers.
2nd Prelude. Ask for lively sentiments of compunction and compassion.
POINT I. “And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.”
CONSIDERATION. Jesus is come to Calvary, to the appointed place and at the hour appointed from all eternity for the consummation of His sacrifice. Let us go there in spirit: what do we see? — the Roman soldiers dispersing the crowd, Jesus standing by the huge wooden cross, the executioners each holding a nail and hammer. Our Lord is commanded to place Himself upon His cruel couch. He obeys without a reply; He lies down upon the cross; He stretches Himself upon it. An executioner asks for His right hand; He gives it; it is seized, and fastened to the cross by an enormous nail, with redoubled blows which re-echo around. But Jesus utters neither a cry of sorrow nor a murmur of complaint.
APPLICATION. He was crucified for us; for me, for my sins, and for the love of me, Jesus endured these fearful torments, the very thought of which makes nature shudder. The evangelist contents himself with the simple words “They crucified Him.” Can I contemplate Him nailed to this cross without emotion, without being touched to the heart, and affected to tears of love and compassion?
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT II. Jesus is raised up on the cross.
CONSIDERATION. What a terrible punishment to be stretched upon the cross, with hands and feet nailed, and in this manner to wait for death! But this punishment did not suffice the love of Jesus; He suffered tenfold, a hundredfold more. The cross upon which He was nailed was raised, and firmly fixed in the rock. He remained hanging to it by the whole weight of His body, supported only by the nails, dying by inches. We can scarcely bear to think of such suffering, in which a minute must seem a day, but which Jesus bore for three mortal hours; and this for me and for love of me!
APPLICATION. O Christian, O religious, whoever you are, here pause and ask yourself — 1st, What are and what can my sufferings ever be, compared to the sufferings of my King and my Saviour? 2ndly, What have I done till now for this Saviour, who has loved me to such an excess, and what can I do now for the love of Him?
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT III. “And with Him they crucify two thieves, the one on His right hand, and the other on His left; and the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith: And with the wicked He was reputed.”
CONSIDERATION. Jesus, as the King of Martyrs, not only willed His sufferings to be incomparably great, but also His humiliations; so it was that He to whom is due all glory in Heaven and Earth made Himself like the worst of criminals, and even by the good was accounted an impostor: thus was the height of infamy joined to the height of suffering.
APPLICATION. Let us kneel in spirit before Jesus suspended in ignominy on the cross, reconciling Heaven and Earth, between which He hangs; blotting out by His blood, as the Apostle expresses it, the handwriting of the decree that was against us. Let us repeat, in the words that the Church employs at each Station in the Way of the Cross “We adore Thee and we bless Thee, O Christ, because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”
COLLOQUY with Jesus on the cross, or with His Mother standing beneath it.