The World's First Love by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Part 49.


The Agony in the Garden

Our fellow creatures can help us only when our needs are human. But in an hour of our greatest need, some of them betray and others sleep. In the really deep agony, we must cry to God. "Being in agony, He prayed." What up to that point seemed a tragedy, now becomes an abandonment to the Father's Will.

The Scourging at the Pillar

Over seven hundred years before, Isaiah prophesied the laceration of Our Lord's Sacred Body, "Here is one despised, left out of all human reckoning, bowed with misery, and no stranger to weakness; how should we recognize that face?" Great souls are like great mountains; they always attract the storms. Upon their bodies break the thunders and lightnings of evil men to whom purity and goodness is a reproach. In reparation for all the sins of the flesh, and in anticipated encouragement to the martyrs who would be beaten by Communists and their progenitors, He delivers His Sacred Body to the lash until "His bones could be numbered," and His flesh hung from Him like purple rags.

The Crowning with Thorns

The Saviour of the world is made a puppet for those who play the fool: the King of Kings is mocked by those who will have "no King but Caesar." Thorns were part of the original curse upon the earth. Even nature, through sinful men, rebels against God. If Christ wears a crown of thorns, shall we covet a crown of laurel?

I saw the Son of God go by Crowned with a crown of thorn. "Was it not finished, Lord" said I, "And all the anguish borne?'

He turned on me His awful eyes: "Hast thou not understood? Lo, every soul is Calvary And every sin a rood."

(Rachel Annard Taylor, "The Question," from Anthology of Jesus, edited by Sir James Marchant ["rood"= cross].

The Carrying of the Cross

Many a cross we bear is of our own manufacture; we made it by our sins. But the Cross which the Saviour carried was not His, but ours. One beam in contradiction to another beam was the symbol of our will in contradiction to His own. To the pious women who met Him on the roadway, He said; "Weep not for Me." To shed tears for the dying Saviour is to lament the remedy; it were wiser to lament the sin that caused it. If Innocence itself took a Cross, then how shall we, who are guilty, complain against it?

The Crucifixion

Once nailed to the Cross and "lifted up to draw all men to Himself," He is taunted: "Others He saved, Himself He cannot save." Of course not! This is not weakness, but obedience to the law of sacrifice. A mother cannot save herself, if she would raise her child; the rain cannot save itself, if it would bud the greenery; a soldier cannot save himself, if he would save his country; and neither will Christ save Himself, since He came to save us. What heart can conceive the misery of humankind, if the Son of God had saved Himself from suffering, and left a fallen world to the wrath of God?