I. Imagine to yourself, O my soul, that you meet Jesus as He passes along in this sorrowful journey. As a lamb borne along to the slaughter-house, so is the loving Redeemer unto death: He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter. (Is. liii. 7). So drained of Blood is He and wearied out with His torments, that for very weakness He can scarcely stand. Behold Him, all torn with wounds, with that bundle of thorns upon His head, with that heavy Cross upon His shoulders, and with one of those soldiers dragging Him along by a rope. Look at Him as He goes along, with Body bent double, with knees all a-tremble, dripping with His Blood; and so painful is it to Him to walk, that at every step He seems ready to die.
Put the question to Him: O Divine Lamb, hast Thou not yet had Thy fill of sufferings? If it is by them that Thou dost aim at gaining my love, oh, let Thy sufferings end here, for I wish to love Thee as Thou dost desire. No, He replies, I am not yet content: then only shall I be content when I see Myself die for love of you. And whither, O my Jesus, art Thou going now? I am going, He replies, to die for you. Hinder Me not: this only do I ask of, and recommend to you, that, when you shall see Me actually dead upon the cross for you, you will keep in mind the great love I have borne you; bear it in mind, and love Me.
O my afflicted Lord, how dear did it cost Thee to make me comprehend the love which Thou hast had for me! But what benefit could ever have resulted to Thee from my love, that Thou hast been willing to expend Thy Blood and Thy life to gain it? And how could I, after having been bound by so great love, have been able so long to live without loving Thee, and unmindful of Thy affection? I thank Thee, O God, that now Thou dost give me light to make me know how much Thou hast loved me. O infinite Goodness, I love Thee above every good. Would, too, that I had the power of offering a thousand lives in sacrifice unto Thee, willing as Thou hast been to sacrifice Thine own Divine life for me. O grant me those aids to love Thee which Thou hast merited for me by so many sufferings! Bestow upon me that sacred fire which Thou didst come to enkindle upon earth by dying for us. Be ever reminding me of Thy death, that I may never forget to love Thee.
II. The government is upon his shoulders. (Is. ix. 6). The Cross, says Tertullian, was precisely the noble instrument whereby Jesus Christ made acquisition of so many souls; since, by dying thereon, He paid the penalty due to our sins, and thus rescued from hell, and made us His own. Who his own self bore our sins in his body upon the tree. (1 Peter ii. 24). If God, then, O my Jesus, burdened Thee with all the sins of men,—The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (Is. lii. 6),—I, with my own sins, added to the weight of the Cross that Thou didst bear to Calvary.
Ah, my sweetest Saviour, Thou didst even then foresee all the wrongs that I should do Thee; yet, notwithstanding, Thou didst not cease from loving me, or from preparing for me all the mercies which Thou hast since employed towards me. If, then, to Thee I have been dear, most vile and ungrateful sinner as I am, who have so much offended Thee, good reason is there why Thou shouldst be dear to me, Thou, my God, infinite in beauty and goodness, Who hast loved me so much. Ah, would that I had never displeased Thee. Now, my Jesus, do I know the wrong that I have done Thee. O ye accursed sins of mine, what have you done? You have caused me to sadden the loving Heart of my Redeemer, that Heart Which has loved me so much. O my Jesus, forgive me, repenting, as I do, of having done injury unto Thee. From henceforth it is Thou Who art to be the only object of my love. I love Thee, O Infinite Loveliness, with all my heart; and I resolve to love none else but Thee. Pardon me, O Lord, and give me Thy love; I ask Thee for nothing more: "Give me only Thy love, together with Thy grace," I say unto Thee with St. Ignatius, "and I am rich enough."
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