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Friday - Fifteenth Week after Pentecost

Considerations on the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ - 45


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Evening Meditations

Saint Alphonsus

I. In speaking of the pardon of our sins we should ever remember that it was for this very end that our Redeemer came upon earth — to pardon sinners: The Son of Man is come to save that which was lost (Matt. xviii. 11). Therefore the Baptist, when he showed to the Jews that the Messias was already come, said: Behold the Lamb of God... that taketh away the sin of the world (Jo. i. 29). As it was foretold by Isaias: As a lamb before his shearers, he shall be dumb (Is. liii. 7); and also by Jeremias: I am as a meek lamb that is carried to be a victim (Jer. xi. 19). And first, He was foreshadowed by Moses in the Paschal Lamb, and by the sacrifice of a lamb to God under the Law every morning, and by other evening sacrifices. All these lambs, however, could not take away a single sin; they served only to represent the sacrifice of the Divine Lamb Jesus Christ, Who with His Blood would wash our souls, and thus free them both from the stain of sin and from the eternal punishment of sin, for this is implied by the words take away; taking upon Himself the duty of satisfying the Divine justice for us by His death, according to what Isaias wrote: The Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all (Is. liii. 6). Wherefore St. Cyril writes; "One is slain for all and the whole human race is restored to God the Father." By dying, Jesus desired to regain for God all mankind that was lost.

Oh, how great is the debt we owe to Jesus Christ! If a criminal condemned to death were already standing at the gibbet with the rope around his neck, and a friend were to come and take the rope and bind it around himself and die in place of the guilty man, how great would be that man's obligation to love him! This is what Jesus Christ has done; He has been willing to die on the Cross to deliver us from eternal death.

II. Jesus Christ, as St. Peter says, bore our sins in his body upon the tree that we being dead to sin should live to justice, by whose stripes you are healed (1 Pet. ii. 24). "What can be more wonderful," says St. Bonaventure, "than that wounds should heal, and death give life?" St. Paul says that God has graced us in his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins, according to the riches of his grace, which hath superabounded in us (Eph. i. 6). And this resulted from the covenant made by Jesus Christ with His Divine Father, that He would pardon us our offences, and receive us into His favour for the sake of the Passion and Death of His Son. As in the Old Law, by the blood of the victims the outward defilement of sins was taken away, and the temporal punishment due to them was remitted; so, in the New Law, the Blood of Jesus Christ washes away the inward stain of sin, according to St. John's words: He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood (Apoc. i. 5).

St. Paul thus explains the whole truth in his Epistle to the Hebrews: Christ being come an High Priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, neither by the blood of goats... but by his own blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption (Heb. ix. 11-12). The high-priest entered into the Holy of Holies, and, by the sprinkling of the blood of animals, purged sinners from their outward defilement and from temporal punishment; for in order to obtain the pardon of sin, and for their liberation from eternal punishment, Contrition, Faith, and Hope in the coming of the Messias, Who was about to die to obtain pardon for them, were absolutely necessary for the Jews. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, by means of His own body (which was the greater and more perfect tabernacle spoken of by the Apostle), which was sacrificed on the Cross, entered into the Holy of Holies of Heaven, which was closed to us, and opened it to us by means of this Redemption.

Therefore St. Paul, in order to encourage us to hope for the pardon of all our sins, by trusting in the Blood of Jesus Christ, goes on to say: If the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of an heifer, sprinkled, sanctify to the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who, by the Holy Spirit, offered himself without stain to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Heb. ix. 13, 14).

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Considerations on the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ - 44

Thursday - Fifteenth Week after Pentecost