From Ave Maria Meditations
” Death is swallowed up in victory. Where , O death is your victory?
Where, O death is your sting ?” (1 Cor 15:54-55)
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We adore Thee, most holy Lord Jesus Christ ,
here and in all Thy churches
that are in the whole world,
and we bless Thee; because by Thy Holy Cross
Thou hast redeemed the World. Amen.
Adoramus te, sanctissime Domine Iesu Christe,
hic et ad omnes Ecclesias tuas,
quae sunt in toto mundo, et benedicimus tibi;
quia per sanctam Crucem tuam redemisti mundum. Amen.
(St. Francis of Assisi)
From the LIFE OF CHRIST by Archbishop Fulton Sheen
Death was the goal of His Life, the gold that He was seeking. You and I come into the world to live. Death is an interruption??but for Him, as He told the Greeks, the seed must fall to the ground and die before it springs forth to new life. Unless there is a Good Friday in our lives there will never be an Easter Sunday. The Cross is the condition of the empty tomb, and the crown of thorns is the preface to the halo of light.
When all is said and done, there are only two philosophies of life. One is first the feast, then the hangover; the other, first the fast and then the feast. Deferred joys purchased by sacrifices are always sweetest and most enduring. Christianity begins not with sunshine but with defeat. Sunshine religions that begin with psychic elation, end often in disillusionment and despair. So essential is dying to self the prelude to the true life of self, that there were three monumental attempts to force Christ to abandon His Cross.
The Devil offered three short cuts to winning the world at the beginning of His Public Life. Peter, the head of the Apostolic band, also tried to solicit Him from the Cross and was scorched for it by being called “Satan.” And finally, at Golgotha, His enemies standing beneath the Cross hurled this challenge–“Come down and we will believe.” Apparently they would believe anything He taught if He would only abandon His philosophy that only by losing one’s life does one save it.
If we leave the Cross out of the Life of Christ, we have nothing left, and certainly not Christianity. For the Cross is related to our sins. Christ was our “stand in” on the stage of life. He took our guilt as if He were guilty and thus paid the debt that sin deserved, namely, death. This made possible our resurrection to a “new life” in Him. Christ, therefore, is not just a teacher or a peasant revolutionist, but our Savior. Our modern world does not like the word “sin.”
What is forgotten is that sin is not the worst thing in the world. The worst thing is the denial of sin. If I am blind and deny there is any such thing as light, I shall never see. If I am deaf and deny sound, I shall never hear. And if I deny there is sin, I make forgiveness impossible . I believe that the whole political and religious situation of the world can be summed up in terms of the divorce of Christ and His Cross. Put the Cross-less Christ on the right side, and the Christ-less Cross on the left. Who picks up the Crossless Christ? Our decadent West ?ern civilization. Christ is weak, effeminate, with no authority to drive buyers and sellers out of temples, and never speaks of self-discipline, restraint and mortification.
Who picks up the Christless Cross? Russia and China, where there is a dedication to a common ideology, the use of discipline and au ?thority to keep peace and order. But neither can heal. The, Crossless Christ leaves men burdened with their guilt which festers in a thousand psychosis and neuroses. The Christless Cross cannot save for it ends in Dachau, the Gulag Archipelago and the squeezing of the lives of millions like grapes to make the collective wine of the State.
Which will first find Christ with the Cross? The totalitarian states who have the Cross without Love, or the Western world which has “love”so often erotic-without sacrifice? We do not know. But we do know that at the end of time, when the great between the forces of good and evil takes place, Satan will appear without the Cross, as the Great Philanthropist and Social Reformer to become the final temptation of all mankind.
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( Jn 19:28)?
It is, in ?deed, true that the loss of blood through the sufferings, the unnatural position of the body with the extreme tension on hands and feet, the overstretched muscles, the wounds exposed to air, the headache from the crowning of thorns, the swelling of the blood vessels, the increasing inflammation-all would have produced a physical thirst.
It was not surprising that He thirsted; what was surprising was that He said so . He Who threw stars into their orbits and spheres into space, He Who shut up the sea with doors, He Who made waters come out of the rock smitten by Moses, He Who had made all the seas and rivers and fountains, He Who said to the woman of Samaria: “The man who drinks the water I give him will not know thirst any more,” now let fall from His lips the shortest of the seven cries from the Cross.
When He was crucified, He refused to take a concoction which was offered Him; now He avidly asked for a drink. But there was consid?erable difference between the two drinks; the first was myrrh and was a stupefying potion to ward off pain; that He refused, in order that His senses might not be dulled. The drink that was now given to Him was vinegar or the sour bad wine of the soldiers. “A jar stood there full of sour wine; so they soaked a sponge with the wine, fixed it on a javelin, and held it up to his lips.?? (John 19:29)?
He Who had turned water into wine at Cana could have used the same infinite resources to have satisfied His own thirst, except for the fact that He never worked a miracle in His own behalf. But why did He ask for a drink? It was not solely because of the need, great.though that must have been. The real reason for the request was the fulfillment of the prophecies: “Jesus, aware that all had now come to its appointed end, said in fulfillment of Scripture, I thirst???? (John 19:28) All that the Old Testament had foretold of Him had to be fulfilled to the smallest iota. David in the Scriptures had foretold His thirst during His Passion: “My mouth is dry as a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaw?? They put poison in my food and gave me vinegar when I was thirsty.?? ( Psalm 21:16; Psalm 68:21-22)?
Thus the soldiers, though they gave Him the vinegar in mockcery, for it is explicitly stated, nevertheless fulfilled the Scriptures. The vinegar was given to Him on a bunch of hyssop, a plant that grew about a foot and a half high. It was hyssop too, that was dipped in the blood of the Paschal Lamb; it was hyssop that was used to sprinkle the lintels and posts of the Jews in Egypt to escape the avenging angel??it was David himself, after his sin, who said that he would be purged with hyssop and be made clean.
That which takes place last in the life of men held by intention the first place in His, for He came to suffer and die. But He would not give up His life until He had fulfilled details of the Scriptures that men might know that it was He, the Christ, the Son of God, Who was dying on the Cross. He was taking out of the Scriptures the idea that the Messiah of the promise must not accept death as a fate, but perform it as a deed.
Exhaustion was not to put Him to death, as ex haustion accounted not for His thirst. As High Priest and Mediator it was the prophecies concerning Him that prompted the cry of thirst. Indeed the Jewish Rabbis had already applied that prophecy to Him; the Midrash stated: “Come and dip thy morsel in the vinegar-this is spoken of the Messiah-of His Passion and torments, as is written in the prophet Isaiah. ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.’ “?
Since the soldiers mockingly gave Our Blessed Lord the vinegar the end of hyssop, it is very likely that they intended to ridicule one of the Jewish sacred rites. When the blood of the lamb was sprinkled? by the hyssop, the purification through a symbol was now fulfilled The bystanders at the Cross who knew well the Old Testament prophecies were thus given another proof that He was the suffering Messiah. His fourth word, which expressed His sufferings of Soul, and His fifth word, which expressed sufferings of Body, were both foretold.?
Thirst was the symbol of the unsatisfying character of sin; the pleasures of the flesh purchased at the cost of joy of the spirit are like drinking salt water. The rich man in hell, in the parable, thirsted and begged Father Abraham to ask Lazarus to wet his tongue with but a drop of water. Making complete atonement for sin demanded that the Redeemer now feel the thirst even of the lost before they are lost. But for the saved, too, it was a thirst-a yearning for souls . Some men have a passion for money, others for fame ; His passion was for souls! “Give Me to drink” meant “give Me thy heart .” The tragedy of Di?vine love for mankind is that in His thirst men gave Him vinegar and gall.
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And later, at the end of His Passion, having fulfilled all, He said, “It is Accomplished”?? (Jn. 19:30)
The Commandment to Love
Remember the loving moan
?That escaped from your heart on the cross.
Ah! Jesus, that moan is impressed in my heart,
And I share your burning thirst.
The more I feel myself burning with your divine flames,
The more I thirst to give you souls.
With love’s thirst I burn night and day,
Remember, Jesus, Word of Life,
How you loved me and ‘even died for me.
I also want to love you to folly.
I also want to live and die for you.
You know, 0 my God! all that I desire Is to make you loved,
and one day be a martyr. I want to die of love. Lord, my desire.
Remember that on the day of your victory You told us,
“He who has not seen The Son of God all radiant with glory
Is blessed if still he has believed!”
In the shadow of Faith, I love you and adore you.
O Jesus! I’m waiting in peace for the dawn to see you.
I don’t desire To see you here below,
St. Therese of Lisieux?
Jesus is God, therefore His love, His thirst, is infinite.
He, the Creator of the universe, asked for the love of His creatures.
He thirsts for OUR love!
These words “I THIRST?? : do they not echo in our souls?
-Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
The cry of Jesus on the Cross, “I thirst ” (Jn 19:?28), expressing the depth of God’s longing for man, penetrated Mother Teresa’s soul and found fertile soil in her heart. Satiating Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls in union with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, had become the sole aim of Mother Teresa’s existence and the inner force that drew her out of herself and made her “run in haste” across the globe to labour for the salvation and the sanctification of the poorest of the poor
(John Paul II on the occasion of the Beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
?? To attract souls and transform them into Himself through love, Christ has revealed
?His own infinite love, His own Heart inflamed by love for souls, a love that impelled
Him to mount the Cross, to remain with us in the Eucharist and to enter our souls
and to leave us in testament His own Mother as our Mother ”
(St. Maximilian Kolbe).