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The Cross Of Christ
Life Of Christ:
 Christ Announces To St. Peter His Supreme Pastoral Charge

 Private Life Of Jesus During His Ministry

 Sorrow Caused To Jesus And Mary By The Persecution Of The Jews

 Jesus Triumphantly Enters Jerusalem

 Barren Fig-tree

 Jews Lay Plans To Put Jesus To Death

 The Last Supper

 Farewell Discourse And Prayer Of Jesus

 Jesus In The Garden Of Gethsemani

 Treason Of Judas, And The Apprehension Of Jesus

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Sorrow Caused To Jesus And Mary By The Persecution Of The Jews

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

To learn, in a degree, how distressed Jesus was at so many and so grievous insults, consider, first, that He was most innocent. During all His life He had never done anything to harm or to offend anybody. True, He had sometimes rebuked the Pharisees for their grievous sins, but this He did, not from hatred, but from motives of charity, that they might come to a knowledge of their faults and amend them. No one else could say that Christ even so much as looked unkindly at him; on the contrary, He went about doing good to all. He healed the sick, comforted the afflicted, converted sinners, instructed the ignorant, and dismissed no one from His presence without consolation and hope.

Now, you well know how grieved you are when you are falsely accused and unjustly punished, and when a person whom you have befriended offends you. If such conduct causes you pain, how much more must our divine Saviour have felt aggrieved, He who had never done the least evil !

Moreover, Our Lord felt the loss of His reputation. On account of His miracles He had been likened to and taken for Elias, Jeremias, or one of the other great prophets, or even for an angel, and many regarded Him as the true Messias. His fame being so great, the ignominy of being thus despised was so much the greater. Consider how aggrieved Jesus must have felt when He, once regarded as the benefactor of His race, was now looked upon as the greatest malefactor. This grievance cannot be described in words. It was one of the greatest afflictions of Our Saviour, and the ill repute in which He was held by the people caused Him greater pain than all the strokes of His scourging, the sharp thorns, and the cruel nails.

Again, not only was Our Lord regarded as a saint by the people, but He was in truth the most holy and most sacred person in the world. He was the glorious King of heaven and Lord of the earth, not only in name, but in fact; for He was appointed Ruler of the universe not by man, but by God Himself. He was the true Messias and Redeemer, sent by God to accomplish the work of redemption. Therefore His person was so sacred that the evil spirits trembled before Him, and the angels fell prostrate and adored Him.

Jesus Christ being, then, so mighty a king and so supreme a lord, how aggrieved must He have felt at being regarded and treated by His own creatures, His own subjects, as the greatest malefactor, the most abject of men! Our Lord, in His most sacred humanity, was, moreover, not only the greatest among the rulers of men, but also the true Son of the eternal, almighty, infinite, heavenly Father, Himself eternal and infinite God.

And being God, He was the Creator, Ruler, and Preserver of heaven and earth, the legitimate Judge of the living and the dead. Being God, all creatures were bound to adore Him and humbly to give Him glory. To refuse Him this homage was to offend Him most grievously; and as He is infinite in all His perfections, this offence was also infinite, and caused Him infinite pain.

Another effect, infinitely painful to the loving heart of our divine Redeemer, resulted from the false accusations against Him. It was that many thousands of souls were thereby dissuaded from following Him, and therefore missed the benefits of redemption. He had come into this world that mankind might believe in Him and acknowledge Him to be the Son of God. How painful this must have been to Him, seeing that the reproach with which He was overwhelmed caused a great many to fall away and to lose faith in Him. Indeed, we may well say that as many souls as were thereby lost to faith and redemption, so many times was His sacred Heart wounded; and as many sins as resulted from the evil judgments of men, so often had He to drain the chalice of sorrow.

Consider how the ignominies heaped upon Christ affected the sorrowful heart of His Mother, causing her inexpressible grief. Indeed, it is impossible to describe adequately the sorrow of Mary, because it is beyond human conception. But we may sincerely believe that if for every word of calumny against her divine Son Mary's heart had been wounded by a sword, her pain would have been less. We may collect this from the words addressed by an angel to St. Brigid: "As often as her Son was blasphemed, so often did the Blessed Virgin feel the sword of sorrow thrust into her soul." It is, indeed, a miracle that her maternal heart was able to bear such suffering. Listen to her own words to St. Brigid: "As often as I heard the calumnies against my Son, and the lies of the people, and witnessed how they persecuted Him, my heart was filled with such sorrow that I could scarcely bear it."

Mary was often in her Son's company. She followed Him from place to place with the pious women who ministered to Him. She was, therefore, an eye-witness of the insults with which He was overwhelmed; and the indignities she did not see were reported to her by others. And because she knew, better than any one else, that her Son was the Son of God, the sorrow and distress at seeing Him not only refused the homage due to Him as such, but treated most ignominiously, blasphemed, and persecuted, was so much the greater. All this cost Mary many a bitter tear, many a sorrowful sigh, and inexpressible anguish of heart. Indeed, if her Son had not sometimes relieved her by filling her heart with divine consolation, she would not have been able to bear her sorrows.

When the followers of Jesus became more and more numerous, the chief priests and ancients of the people, together with the scribes and Pharisees, took counsel together. "And the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that if any man knew where He was, he should tell, that they might apprehend Him." (John xi. 56.)

The great council, composed of the high priests and seventy-one members, consisted of the chiefs of the priestly classes, of the high priests whose term of office had expired, of the lawyers and scribes, and the elders or heads of tribes and families. It was the office of this council to provide for the observance of the Mosaic law and for the order of divine service. But as the admission to this council depended in a great measure on the high priest, and since the time of the Machabees on his pagan protectors, worldly interests and considerations had re-placed the consecration to God's service. Hence it is not extraordinary that Christ was persecuted by the great council. The evangelists relate that several meetings were held against Our Saviour, and in one of these it was resolved that whosoever should acknowledge Him as the Messias should be expelled from the synagogue. Christ being thus publicly proclaimed as an impostor, the whole country was aroused, and He was made the subject of many injurious remarks. His enemies triumphed, saying: "Have we not long since declared Him to be an impostor? Behold, now the great council brands Him as such." And many were scandalized at Christ, and left Him. Those who still adhered to Him had to do so in secret.

The most important meeting of the council was the one held a few days before Palm Sunday, soon after the resurrection of Lazarus. The reason was this: After Christ had performed this extraordinary miracle, the fame of it spread throughout the whole country, and all that heard of it were filled with consternation thereat.

Many who had left Jesus from fear of the Jews returned to Him and proclaimed Him the true Messias. "The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said: What do we, for this man doth many miracles? If we let Him alone, all will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away our place and nation." (John xii. 47, 48.) Indeed, a most important meeting, where the fate of the Son of God is decided ! Might we not reasonably expect that they would unanimously decree: " Since this man works such extraordinary signs and wonders, He must be the Messias" ? But no, when the votes were counted, the majority was against Christ, although some had spoken in His favor. Now the high priest gave his decision : Our Lord was, so to say, proscribed and declared an outlaw, as St. John declares: "The chief-priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that if any man knew where He was, he should tell, that they might apprehend Him." (John xii.

Consider what a reproach this sentence was to your Redeemer, by which He was not only branded as an impostor who had impersonated the Messias, but was ad-judged guilty of death for His misdemeanors. This again resulted in the defection of many, who now regarded Him as a malefactor. Oh, how bitterly did the innocent soul of Our Lord feel this reflection on His reputation !

And how do you think His Mother was affected by this treatment of her Son? Trustworthy writers inform us that Nicodemus, immediately after that meeting of the council, wrote to St. Magdalen, requesting her to inform the Master to leave at once, and to conceal Himself from His enemies, which He did, as the Gospel informs us, by going to Ephrem.

A few days afterward, " Jesus going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart, and said to them : Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be betrayed to the chief priests and the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified." (Matt. xx. 17.) Christ had often predicted His passion to His disciples, but never so explicitly as now, for the time was at hand when it was to be accomplished. He referred to it not sorrowfully, for, as St. Luke remarks, "He went before" His disciples, from which we may judge that Christ went to His death willingly, for He had a great desire to accomplish our redemption.

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