The movie “The Passion of Christ” (2004) gave us some idea how much Jesus suffered for us. Given the historical data and the known brutality of the Roman soldiers the movie is probably just the way it happened. Jesus endured suffering on the Cross for the sins of the world. His suffering would leave anyone speechless. At the pillar where he was scourged, he wasn't just flogged but His flesh was ripped open so that every lash of the whips with hooks at the ends was a hammer-blow that kept Him reeling. Why was all this necessary? In order to answer that question we must ask ourselves why the world, in which we all have a part, has so transgressed His teachings.
The day before that Friday, Jesus instituted what takes place on Catholic Altars every day, the remembrance of that day, where he broke the bread and poured the wine. "Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body.' And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, 'Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the cove-nant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'" (Mat 26:26-28 RSV).
The great gift Jesus gave us, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, His Real Presence, was given to all of us that night at the Last Supper. Jesus told us to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind", and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." So when He gave his life for us on Good Friday, He showed us His love... He gave His life for all of us, so that we may be redeemed and saved.
My crucified Jesus, we see you bathed in blood. The souls of all of mankind, from the very first man to the last yet to be born, we see in your suffering, in the Blood you shed for the world to redeem the world. Each act of reparation, of repentance, atonement, courage and holiness, represents salve upon your open wounds. My Love, how willingly would I take your place to spare you so much pain. My Jesus, I fuse myself in the wounds of your hands, your feet, and your Heart. Please shield me there from temptation as we, too, are attacked in our desert on our path of life. Let my thoughts be ever upon your holy suffering when I'm attacked so that I may remain resolute in my promise to be obedient to you and to your Holy Church.
My dear Lord, to relieve and to soothe your pain, we offer you all of our charitable acts, and the holy works of all your creatures. As your walk to Golgotha, bearing the heavy Cross of our sin, is completed, you are crucified and I am crucified in you. Do not permit me to become separated from you. May I always be at your side, making reparation to you for everyone, to soothe the pain caused by my sins and the sins of all throughout the ages. I ask for your mercy and compassion for everyone in the world. It is never too late. The good thief on the cross, moments before his death asked you with sorrow for his sins; that you have mercy on him. You replied that he would be with you that day in paradise. Let us remember that it is never too late. That if we're on our deathbed and we're not in the State of Grace please give us the presence of mind to whisper a prayer to you, an expression of regret for a sinful life, a prayer of recognition of your Divine Majesty, that you are the Christ, the Son of God. Then, as you did with the good thief, please answer that plea for grace, that appeal for forgiveness.
There is no beauty left and life has lost it's meaning. For those and for all of us, Jesus suffered a most terrible death. A death that seems to go wasted as long as we repel Him. But if we love Him, as He loves us, then there will be much joy in your life. Then you will happily get out of your gloomy existence and apply all your considerable talent and capacity for true love to join the millions who know Jesus by His first name. And we hope that some day, we may all be together in the House of the Lord: Heaven.
As Holy Week begins, let us prepare for the remembrance of Golgotha. As we suffer together with Jesus Christ on the Cross, we'll learn the true meaning of the Cross and the limitless power of His love for us. He accepted His Cross for us. Now we must do the same for Him!
Fred Schaeffer, OFS