Author Topic: Thoughts on the Passion: Sermon  (Read 455 times)

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Thoughts on the Passion: Sermon
« on: April 17, 2019, 02:34:40 PM »
Thoughts on the Passion
by the Rev. H. G. Hughes

The whole Christian world, dear brethren in Jesus Christ, is about to turn its eyes towards Calvary, to witness the great tragedy that there took place, --the greatest, most moving tragedy that the world has ever known. During the coming days all devout Christians will follow in spirit, scene by scene, event by event, the history of the sufferings of Jesus--that history which teaches us so much of the love of God and of the terrible malice and evil of sin. It is my intention today to suggest to you, with God's help, some few thoughts that may be of assistance to you in your pious meditations on this great subject; that may by God's grace help you to meditate with good results to your souls. We are about to follow Our Divine Lord through all His sufferings; watching Him, listening to His words, trying to learn to know Him, love Him, and imitate Him. Let us begin by raising our minds and hearts to God, begging the grace of the Holy Spirit that we may learn well the lessons that He would have us learn--the lesson of faith and hope in the great salvation purchased for us at so dear a price; the lesson of love for that God "Who spared not his only begotten Son," and for Him who " became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Let us pray to know something of the infinite depth of divine love for men; something of the horrible evil of sin which required so great an atonement. Throughout our meditation on the Passion, dear brethren, we may with profit keep three thoughts constantly before our minds:

First: Who it is that suffers.
Second: Why He had to suffer.
Third: What it was that moved Him thus freely and willingly to suffer.

First, then, who is it that suffers? We are going to watch Him through the events of that last week of His earthly life-- Holy Week. We shall see His entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; meek and riding upon an ass. We shall watch Him and listen to Him giving His last lessons in the temple, on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We shall gaze upon Him in spirit at the Last Supper, and shall see Him giving His sacred Body and Blood to the apostles under the outward form of Bread and Wine. We shall watch Him bowed down in agony, pale, trembling, sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. We shall see Him basely betrayed by one of His chosen apostles, sold to His enemies for a paltry sum, brought before unjust judges; condemned, scourged, insulted, and cruelly ill treated by the soldiers, mocked, crowned with thorns, spat upon. We shall follow Him along the Way of the Cross, till at last we shall see Him nailed fast to the shameful tree, where He will hang for three long hours of agony; and finally we shall hear His last cry and see Him draw His last breath.

And who is He that goes through all this? To the crowds who surround Him He is but a man; a wonderful man, indeed, but only a man. A man, too, whose life has turned out a failure, in spite of the wonderful deeds He has done, in spite of the devotion which He has aroused in the hearts of His followers. A failure--ending in a criminal's death. And if we had been there, we should have seen in Him the form and features of a man only. But who in very truth is He who suffers?

He is the eternal, mighty God, the Maker and Lord of heaven and earth; the Word and Son of the Father, proceeding from Him. from all eternity.

Faith pierces the veil of flesh beneath which God our Lord hid Himself; and in Him we see God made Man; a divine Person, the eternal Word, having two natures, a human nature which He took from the Blessed Virgin His mother, a divine nature which He had from all eternity. He is at once God and Man, truly God and truly Man; but only One Person--Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh.

And what is the result of this mysterious joining together of the divine and human natures in One Person--what is the result especially in regard to His sufferings? The result is that all He did, all He said, and in His Passion all He suffered, and His very death itself, were the words and deeds, the suffering and death of our God, in a human nature assumed by Him as His instrument in all He did for us.

You know that I, who speak to you, have a human nature. Now, when I am speaking to you, you do not say that it is my nature speaking; you say that I, the person, speak to you. So, when our blessed Lord did anything in His human nature, it was not merely His human nature doing it--it was done by the Person to whom that nature belonged; and that person is God. And it is this fact, the fact that the human nature of Our Lord was the instrument of His divine personality, that gives to His Passion its infinite value in the sight of God.

So, then, when in our meditations on the Passion we ask ourselves "Who did this? " the answer is: "My Lord and God; my Maker, the Lord of all things."

Dear brethren, when we really give ourselves to reflection on this truth, how stupendous it seems! Think of the indignities which Our Lord suffered; think of the scourging; think of that sacred face all filthy with the vile spittle of the soldiers; and then say to yourself--this is my God who is thus stripped and scourged till He is covered with blood: that face, all denied as it is, is the face of my God. He who stands there and permits Himself to be mocked and insulted is God. He could call a legion of angels to destroy His enemies--nay, with one breath of His divine anger He could blast them to destruction. Indeed, had not He Himself proved by His works, and above all by the crowning miracle of His Resurrection, that He is God; were it not for faith, with all the abundant securities which God has given us, not only in the Holy Scriptures, but in the continued and continuous energizing of the divine power of Jesus in the history of His true Church, we could hardly have conceived the possibility that this was God who suffered thus.

But we will go on to the second thought that we should keep in mind as we meditate upon the Passion of Our Lord. Why had He to suffer?

Dear brethren, you know why. What says the Creed that we sing every Sunday in the Mass? "Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; was crucified also for us; suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried." For us men and for our salvation. Why do we need salvation ? Because we have sinned; because by sin we have lost God and heaven, and deserved hell. Look at the crucifix and say to yourself," Were it not for that I could never be saved." Look again and say, " Were it not for sin that need never have taken place." What must sin be, dear brethren? We often hear in sermons and read in pious books of the awful malice of sin--how it offends the goodness of God; how it deserves hell; how it cuts us off from God, our only good; but there is something that more vividly and more effectually than anything else will bring home to us the fearful evil of sin--and that is the crucifix.

What does it come to? It comes to this--that sin, willful, mortal sin, in such a hideous evil in God's sight that He would not forgive it till a terrible price had been paid. And what was that price? "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son"; and that Son so loved us that He did not refuse to come and pay the price. Yes, before God's eternal necessary justice could forgive, before that terrible evil of sin could be done away. God the Father sent His beloved Son, whom from all eternity He loved with all the infinite strength of love divine; sent Him in human form to earth, and laid on Him the iniquities of us all. And then He punished that Son, the all holy innocent one. He poured out upon the Son of His love the heavy, bitter punishments of that most just anger which WE deserved. Oh, what must sin be if it made God thus punish His well-loved Son? Oh, what must sin be that did to death the Lord of life? Oh, what must sin be that so cruelly treated the most Holy One, the most compassionate and loving Jesus, who all His life went about doing good?

And, dear brethren, there is something else that we must never forget. That bitter suffering and death was for ME and for YOU, for each one of us singly. Every one of us can look at Jesus in His sufferings and truthfully say, "He is doing this for ME; because of MY sins. My sins drew from Him that agonizing sweat of blood; my sins mocked and scourged Him: I, wretched sinner that I am--I nailed Him to the Cross and slew Him there." You know, dear brethren, that when Our Lord comes to us in Holy Communion, He is not divided among the many who receive Him. Each one of us receives Him whole and entire; many together do not receive more than one. Similarly in His Passion--it is all for each one. St. Paul teaches us this in the words of my text. "He loved me, and delivered Himself up for me." Thus, then, when we ask the question, "Why had He to suffer this? " the answer is not merely "Because of sin," but "Because of my sins."

For me; to atone for my sins; to obtain forgiveness from God for my most wretched sins. If ever in our lives we have sinned, we must look at the crucifix and say, That is my work; that is my doing; and even if we had never committed actual sin, we should still have to say--That was for me, to draw me out of the state of original sin in which I was born, to win for me that sanctifying grace of Baptism without which I could never have been saved.

Yes; it is all for me; to save me from hell; for me, to teach me what a shocking and dreadful thing is a mortal sin; for me, to teach me to do penance for my past sins and to strive earnestly to avoid sin in the future; for me, to give me great hope and courage, when I remember that He has so abundantly redeemed me, and that all His Passion is added to my poor, weak prayers and efforts; for me, to make me love Him and thank Him; for me, to teach me the worth of my soul which He has bought and redeemed from the devil at so great a price.(29)

And now, dear brethren, let me go on to the third thought that we must have in mind as we follow Our Lord along the way of suffering. What motive had He? What made Him willing to endure all this for our salvation? What was it that could move the God of heaven and earth to "empty himself"; to "take upon him the form of a servant"; to walk this earth in human flesh; to lead a poor, humble, despised life; freely to give Himself up into the hands of His enemies that they might work their wicked will upon Him? What made Him willing to die that shameful death; the death of an outcast criminal; a death no Roman citizen was allowed to suffer? Was it the goodness, the excellence of those whom He came to save? No, for they were a sinful race. Was it that they were his friends ? No, for when we were His enemies He came to redeem us. What then was it? The answer is in one word, LOVE,--DIVINE LOVE; PITTING LOVE ; love of us; love of you; love of me.

Dear brethren, a modern spiritual writer has most truly and most wisely said that the day a man truly grasps this great truth of faith -- that Jesus so loved me that He came to die for me, -- is a blessed day in that man's life. "He loved me, and delivered Himself up for me."

And, blessed truth. He loves me still; He loves me now; as much and as well as ever, even as He did when He knelt in an agony of prayer for me, or hung for me upon the Cross. Let us not forget this. He is " Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb. xiii. 8). He never changes. He is ever and always the same dear friend; the best and dearest friend of all. "I have loved you," He says, "with an everlasting love." And He shows this present love in many ways; in ways that are the blessed results of His Passion. All that He does for us in His holy Church shows it. One by one He takes each single soul, and by the holy Sacraments and other means of grace provides for individual salvation and applies to each and every one the fruit of His sacred Passion. And now, dear brethren, is it not a wonderful thing, a strange thing, that believing all this, believing that Jesus Christ, who suffered, is Our God; believing that He suffered for our sins, for your sins and for mine; believing that it was His pitying love for you and me that led Him to the Cross; and that He loves us still as much as ever He did --is it not, I say, a marvelous and strange thing that we are still so cold towards Him, yes, and still so sinful? And it is because we love Him so little that we give way to temptation and sin against Him. How is it, then, that we are so cold, so ungrateful, so unloving, and therefore so sinful?

Dear brethren, it is because we do not think enough about these things, about our dear Lord and His sacred Passion. Who are the great heroes of Jesus Christ; those saints filled with an energy of divine love that has made imperishable marks upon the world's history; men like Francis, women like Teresa? They are the ones. whose continual study was the Cross of Christ. Today, perhaps, after meditating upon the Passion, we too feel divine love burning in our heart; but tomorrow, unless we renew these thoughts we shall forget, the flame of love will die down again. In a few days, perhaps, when some strong, attractive temptation comes, we shall perhaps give way, with never a thought of Jesus and His sufferings, and the smoldering spark of love that still remains will be extinguished by mortal sin. Why? It is because we so SELDOM think of Jesus and of all He has done for us that these things take no lasting hold upon our hearts. If we thought of these things oftener, if we often read and prayed and pondered over the love and Passion and death of our dear Lord, our minds would become taken up with Him; we should be more like the saints; and when temptation came the thought of Jesus crucified for love of us would stay us from sinning.

Beg of Him that during this holy Passion-tide the grateful and compassionate remembrance of His love, His Passion, and His death may enter deeply into our souls, so that we may learn to give Him that for which, with outstretched arms. He pleads upon His Cross,--the true love of our inmost hearts.

1. John i. I, 2. 2. Heb. i. 2, 3. 3. Rom. xi. 36.
4. Matt xxvii. 51; Luke xxiii. 44, 45. 5. 1 peter ii. 5.
6. Heb. xii. 3.
7. Heb. vi. 6. 8. i Cor. ii. 8. 9. Tit. i. i6.
10. Isaias liii. 8. 11. Isaias liii. 6. 12. Isaias liii. 10.
13. Rom. viii. 32. 14. Luke xxii. 44.
15. Ps. ii. 2. 16. Matt. xxvi. 47. 17. Mark xiv. 68, 70, 71.
18. Matt. xxvi. 56. 19. Col. 1.24. 20. 2 Cor. vii, 4.
21. Rev. i. S. 22. Col. ii. 13, 14. 23. John xii. 31, 32.
24. Cor. v. 19. 25. Heb. x. 19. 26. Num. xxxv. 25.
27. Eph. v. 2. 28. I Pet i. 18,19.
To understand God's Plan for Humanity, and how He has provided the means by which we can minimize the Coming Great Tribulation, read:

Offer your Life to Jesus and Mary: TEXT OF THE LIFE OFFERING, adapted: Dear Lord Jesus, before the Holy Trinity, Our Heavenly Mother, and the whole Heavenly Court, united with Your most Precious Blood and Your Sacrifice on Calvary, We hereby Offer our whole Lives to the Intention of Your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Together with our life, we place at Your disposal all Holy Masses, all our Holy Communions, all Rosaries, all acts of consecration, all our good deeds, all our sacrifices, and the suffering of our entire life for the Adoration and Supplication of the Holy Trinity, for Unity in our Holy Mother Church, for the Holy Father, Pope Francis the First; and for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. For His Eminence Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, His Excellency Metropolitan Hilarion, as well as His Eminence Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, that they may re-unite their flocks with the Roman Catholic Church, and there may soon be but One Fold and One Shepherd. For all the 220+ Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, for all 6000+ Bishops of the Universal Church that they may be true Apostles and Shepherds; and for the 400,000+ Priests, the 700,000+ Nuns, 50,000+ Monks, 100,000+ seminarians, that they may all become the Saints the Divine Will wishes them to be; for all the 1.35 Billion Members of the Church, the Millions of Catholic Catechumens and Children to be born and baptized in this Decade; we pray for good Priestly and Religious Vocations, for All Lay Apostolates, and All Souls until the end of the world. O my Jesus, please accept our life Sacrifice and our offerings and give us Your grace that we may all persevere obediently until death. Amen."

"Mother of God, Co-Redemptrix of the world, pray for us" [Promise: 1000 Souls from Purgatory]"This short prayer, this insistent prayer, every time it is said, sets free from Purgatory 1000 Souls, who reach the Eternal Joy, the Eternal Light"(!).