The Meek Lamb
Tuesday of Holy Week
Presence of God – O Jesus, give me the grace to penetrate the abyss of sorrow made by sin in Your heart, so full of meekness.
…Jeremias 11:18-20 speaks to us as the suffering Savior: “I was as a meek lamb that is carried to be a victim.” This sentence expresses the attitude of Jesus toward the bitterness of His Passion. He knew every one of these sufferings in all their most concrete particulars; His heart had undergone them by anticipation, and the thought of them never left Him for an instant during the course of His life on earth. If the Passion, in its historical reality, took place in less than twenty-four hours, in its spiritual reality it spanned His entire life.
Jesus knew what was awaiting Him, His heart was tortured by it; and yet He not only accepted but ardently desired that hour, “His hour”; and He gave Himself into the hands of His enemies with the meekness of a lamb being led to the slaughter. “I have left My house,” He says again through the mouth of Jeremias. “… I have delivered My beloved soul into the hands of My enemies” (Roman Breviary). Judas betrayed Him, His enemies dragged Him before the tribunal, they condemned Him to death, they tortured His body horribly; but Jesus, even in His Passion, remained always God, remained always the Master, the Lord. “I have power to lay down My life and to take it up again,” says the liturgy in today’s Vespers (Roman Breviary), Jesus went to His Passion “because it was His own will” (Is 53:7). He willed it because, as He Himself said, “This is the command which I have received from My Father” (Jn 10:18).
However, His ardent desire for the Passion did not prevent Him from tasting all its bitterness. “The sorrows of death have encompassed me…. Insults and terrors I have suffered from those who called themselves my friends…. God of Israel, because of You, I have suffered opprobrium, and shame has covered my face” (Roman Breviary). Let us try to sound the depths of these sacred texts which we read in today’s liturgy, in order that we may have a better understanding of the most bitter Passion of Christ.
“O Lord of my soul, how quick we are to offend You! But how much quicker are You to forgive us! What am I saying, Lord! ‘The sorrows of death have encompassed me.’ Alas! What a great evil is sin, since it could put God Himself to death with such terrible sufferings! And these same sufferings surround You today, O my Lord! Where can You go that You are not tortured? Men cover You with wounds in all Your members.
“Christians, this is the hour to defend your King and to keep Him company in the profound isolation in which He finds Himself. How few, O Lord, are the servants who remain faithful to You!… The worst of it is that there are some who profess to be Your friends in public, but who sell You in secret. You can scarcely find one in whom You can trust. O my God, true Friend, how badly does he repay You who betrays You!
“O true Christians, come to weep with your God! It was not only over Lazarus that He shed tears of compassion, but over all those who, in spite of His call, would never rise from the dead. At that time, my Love, You saw even the sins that I would commit against You. May they be at an end, and with them, those of all sinners. Grant that these dead may come to life. May Your voice, Lord, be strong enough to give them life, even if they do not ask it of You. Lazarus did not ask You to bring him back to life, and yet You restored life to him at the prayer of a sinner. Here is another sinner, my God, and much more culpable than she was. Let, then, Your mercy shine forth! I ask it of You in spite of my wretchedness, for those who will not ask” (St. Teresa of Jesus, Exclamations of the Soul to God, 10).
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Art: Agnus Dei [Lamb of God], Francisco de Zurbarán, 1635-1640, PD-Worldwide, Wikimedia Commons; Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.