The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 31.

God became Man and in His Human Nature did that which was impossible for the Divine Nature to accomplish. To show sympathy with men, He entered into human relations, each one of which involved the keenest suffering. He spared Himself nothing. He suffered in the sufferings of His Mother, of His Apostles, of His Friends in all the ages which already He foresaw. He wept over the doom of Jerusalem, the City of His predilection—He shed tears over the grave of Lazarus. When He loved His own He loved them unto the end, and in the end He died upon the Cross. The Everlasting Son, who is the Firstborn of every creature, in His self-sacrificing love is "the express Image" of the Invisible God. (Cf. Col. i. 15.)

On the dread sufferings of Christ in detail, I shall not linger, for they do not belong to the scope of this book. They are to be read of in the Holy Scriptures of our religion, which tell us in inspired words concerning the Passion of Christ—a Passion which began with the first moment of the Incarnation, and ended only when with a loud cry our Lord bent His Head and surrendered His Soul into His Father's Hands. To the end of time the Gospels and the Crucifix will prove that God cares for men —He has even found a way to endure and share all the sufferings of man to their last limit and extremity.

" Father, if it be possible let this Chalice pass from me," was the cry wrung from the bitterness of the Soul of Christ beneath the olive-trees in the Garden of His Agony—a cry uttered aloud to teach us something of the agony He then endured—not a petition to be granted by His Father, for it was carefully guarded and strictly limited by absolute sub mission. Our divine Saviour knew that it was not possible for that Chalice to pass, if His Father's Will (springing from the Father's Love)—which was His Will too—should be done as in Heaven, so on earth—on that earth upon which, even as He cried aloud in dread, the sweat of His fear was falling. These are high Mysteries. Suffice it for us to know that He who had compassion on the multitude, also loved, suffered, gave up the ghost, for the love of every individual soul. " He hath loved me and hath delivered Himself up for me." Yes, God does care, for our Lord Jesus Christ has proved that He cares, and our Lord Jesus Christ is God.

But, if the sufferings of Christ had stood alone, in the sense that no creatures could in any manner have lot or part in those solitary sufferings, a great temptation might well have beset us. We might have been tempted to say (as in fact many outside the Unity of the Church do say even now): " Christ my Lord has died for me. He alone is my Redeemer. By His Death He has atoned for my sins. Why then should I suffer now ?"

To this the Catholic Faith makes answer, In the highest sense our Lord did indeed suffer alone, in unutterable solitariness. " He trod the winepress alone and there was no man with Him." Most truly He is our only Saviour; most truly has He atoned perfectly for all our sins. Yet, it is equally true that His servants may—and if they may, they should—nay they needs must, for such is His Will—have their share in the sufferings of Christ. We are the members of His Body. Without Good Friday there could have been for our Lord no Easter Morning. It is then only just and fitting that if we are to share in His Resurrection, it should be asked of us too that in some small measure we should first share in His Passion.

" Dearly beloved," writes the Prince of the Apostles, " think not strange the burning heat which is to try you as if some new thing were happening to you. But if you partake of the sufferings of Christ, rejoice that when His glory shall be revealed you may also be glad with exceeding joy ; wherefore let them also that suffer according to the Will of God, commend their souls in good deed to the faithful Creator." (1 Peter iv. 12, 13, 19.)