FIFTH WEEK OF LENT: THURSDAY
First Word of Jesus on the Cross
1st Prelude. Imagine you see Jesus raised on the cross, and hear Him say “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
2nd Prelude. Ask for a spirit of gentleness and charity.
POINT I. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
CONSIDERATION. The blood of Abel cried to Heaven for vengeance, and the vengeance of Heaven fell without delay upon Cain and his descendants. The crime of the Jews who nailed their Messiah, the Holy of holies, on the cross was infinitely greater. Yet at His last hour, instead of asking His Heavenly Father to manifest His justice by confounding His enemies and establishing His innocence, the first words of Jesus were “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” What an example of gentleness and charity!
APPLICATION. Jesus is your model, whom you have promised so often to follow, especially in His gentleness and charity. But examine how you have done so. Jesus, innocence itself, so horribly treated, prays for His murderers, and even excuses their guilt, whilst you, perhaps, nourish feelings of bitterness and revenge against those who have wronged you but very slightly, over-estimating their offense, or attributing to them intentions which they may never have entertained.
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT II. “And Pilate wrote a title also, and he put it upon the cross; and the writing was Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, in letters in Greek, Latin and Hebrew.”
CONSIDERATION. Pilate’s motive in placing this apparently honourable inscription above the cross, in the three then best known languages, was to mortify the Jews, who had compelled him to condemn Our Lord unjustly; but at the same time he unconsciously fulfilled the words of Jesus “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted,” as well as the prophecy that the Gospel should be made known to Hebrews, Greeks and Romans, and from them should spread into every country, and be proclaimed in every tongue.
APPLICATION. Remark here the admirable providence of God, and how He obtains His ends in spite, and even by means, of the perversity of man; this we see every day, and therefore why shouldst thou, O devout soul, be so fearful and mistrustful in His service? Let us repose upon His providence, and no-one can harm us; in the words of the Apostle, we know that “to them that love God all things work together unto good.”
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT III. “Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate: Write not: The King of the Jews; but that He said: I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered: What I have written, I have written.”
CONSIDERATION. The inscription Pilate ordered to be placed above the cross wounded the pride of the chief priests, who came in a body to the governor requesting him to change it; but Pilate, so weak and timid before, was firm now, and only replied to their imperious demand “What I have written, I have written.”
APPLICATION. Here Pilate, although a heathen, gives us a lesson; he teaches us not to change our resolutions lightly, particularly those we have formed in retreats, but to adhere to them at whatever cost. So that under any pretext whatever — and pretexts are rarely ever wanting to those tempted to abandon their resolutions — let us stand firm and say “What I have written under the inspiration of grace, when God spoke to my heart, is to remain unaltered, and I will not depart from it.”
COLLOQUY with the Almighty Father beholding His crucified Son.