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
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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Jews Lay Plans To Put Jesus To Death
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
JUDAS ISCARIOT OFFERS TO DELIVER HIM TO THEM.-JESUS MAKES KNOWN HIS SUFFERINGS AND DEATH TO HIS MOTHER MARY.
HAVING ended His discourse, Jesus reminded His disciples of the approaching Passover: "You know that after two days shall be the Pasch, and the Son of man shall be delivered up to be crucified." (Matt. xxvi. 2.) He had referred to His passion and death before, even more explicitly, saying: "The Son of man shall be betrayed to the chief priests and scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified" (Matt. xx. 18, 19), but at that time they did not realize the import of His words. But now they were overwhelmed with grief.
Meanwhile the chief priests were not idle. The acting high-priest, Caiphas, was the soul of the movement against Jesus: his words "that it was expedient that one man should die for the people," had first given definite expression and formal sanction to the idea of putting Him to death. But as yet no more could be done than watch, and take advantage of the course of events.
Among the twelve apostles was one, Judas Iscariot by name, whom Jesus had appointed purser, giving him the care of the funds which, to meet the expenses of each day, He accepted from His followers. The love of gain took possession of this trusted apostle's soul, and he be-came an embezzler. "Then went one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, to the chief priests, and said to them: What will you give me, and I will deliver Him to you? But they appointed to him thirty pieces of silver." (Matt. xxvi. 14, 15.) Only four days before making his detestable contract with the high-priests, Judas had objected to the generosity of Mary Magdalen when pouring a quantity of precious ointment on the feet of the Saviour, saying: "Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor, but be-cause he was a thief, and having the purse, carried the things that were put therein." (John xii. 5, 6.) The bounty of Mary Magdalen had sufficed to kindle smouldering resentment and disloyalty into a flame in the mean and sordid heart of Judas. Stealing out, therefore, from Bethany, unmoved by the divine love and purity of his Master, forgetful, in the blindness of his evil passion, of all he had seen and heard during the last three eventful years, he made his way, in the darkness of night, to the chief priests, who received his offer with joy. But they bargained with him meanly enough; for they offered him for his villainy only thirty shekels, the price of a slave. But the covetousness of the traitor was fascinated by even so paltry a sum. He sold himself as their tool, and from that time sought a good opportunity to betray Jesus.
The heart of Jesus must have been deeply grieved at the treachery which Judas was meditating against Him, for the gloom which it cast over His soul was reflected upon His usually serene and tranquil features. You will be able to understand, in a manner, the feelings of Jesus, if you try to put yourself for a moment in your Redeemer's place. Suppose you have a friend whom you tenderly love, and for whom you have done numberless acts of kindness, which entailed much inconvenience and self-sacrifice. You have always taken his part in troubles and difficulties, defended him in danger, and befriended him in every way. There have been no secrets between you, you have been to him what a true friend ought to be the very half of his soul. Now, if, after all your trust and affection, he were to turn upon you and betray you, what pain would this dastardly conduct give your heart! It would stun you, and deprive you of words strong enough to give vent to your feelings. If any one else had treated you a thousandfold more contumeliously, you would not have minded it; if your enemy had done so, you would not have wondered thereat : such conduct might have been expected from him. But for a friend, and such a friend, to be guilty of the like baseness, quite vanquishes you, takes away the very power to defend yourself, and makes you feel like giving vent to your grief in tears.
Think, therefore, of the unutterable anguish which the treachery of Judas caused Jesus. What friend ever loved another as He loved that wretched man? He chose him for one of His apostles; for well-nigh three years He admitted him to His closest intimacy; day by day He spoke to him and taught him, and explained to him the mysteries of the kingdom of God. He allowed him to witness many of His most astounding miracles; He gave him power, in common with the other apostles, to perform miracles. Yet, notwithstanding all these favors, the unhappy apostle's heart conceived the design of selling that loving Master, who had done so much for him, and who loved him so tenderly.
From this we may conclude that the sins of those who have received signal favors from God cause the Sacred Heart of Jesus more acute suffering than the transgressions of men who have not experienced such exceptional bounty. If you find, upon reflection, that you are among the number of these, be ashamed of your ingratitude and heartless treachery to your Lord and Master; and if in the past you have thoughtlessly sold His love and friend-ship for the sake of a paltry gain or a fleeting gratification of your evil inclinations, promise that you will for the future prove yourself worthy of His love and friend-ship by unswerving loyalty, which will keep with scrupulous exactitude all the commands of His law.
Whilst Judas and the high-priests were clasping hands in their work of death, Jesus and His Mother were in Bethania. On the Wednesday of His passion-week, Mary sat alone in a room with her beloved Son, and after a long period of silence, she ventured with a mother's confidence to tell Him how sad and anxious her heart was, saying : " My dearly beloved Son, though I am not worthy to speak to Thee, yet, as Thou art my Son, I shall avail myself of a mother's privilege, and ask something which I am confident Thou wilt not refuse."
"Thou art dear to My heart, Mother," replied Jesus, "and thou knowest that I always cherished a son's affection for thee. Tell Me, then, what thou wouldst ask; I shall not refuse thee."
"I know well," rejoined Mary, "that Thou hast been sent by the Father to redeem the world, and I also know, from the predictions of the prophets, that this redemption is to be accomplished only by Thy sufferings and death. But the appointed time I do not know. Yet, as I have lately heard and seen, Thy enemies are now, more than ever, exasperated against Thee, and I have not been without dreadful apprehensions lest they should tear Thee unexpectedly from me, and before I could come to console Thee."
" Kindest of mothers," Jesus said, "why fear such a thing? Thou shouldst know that I would not enter on My sufferings without giving thee notice."
" I should know that, but I was afraid that Thou didst hesitate to tell me, lest I should be too much afflicted at the dreadful information."
" Certainly, dearest Mother, I have not mentioned this sad affair sooner, because I knew that thy sufferings would be of too long duration even as it is. But now the time has come for Simeon's prophecy to be fulfilled, and thy heart, alas, to be pierced by the sharp sword of grief. I will, therefore, now tell thee 411 that is necessary for thee to know, but I beseech thee not to repine or be over-come with grief."
"O my Son, although the recital rend my heart with pain, yet I beg Thee to tell me all; for I feel that it will be some consolation to know when and how Thou art to suffer."
"Best and most loving of mothers, although but little worldly happiness has fallen to our lot during life, yet all our joys will now be changed into bitter sorrow, for I can remain with thee only till to-morrow morning, when I must leave thee and go to Jerusalem. To-morrow night I shall be in the hands of my enemies. I shall be bound with cords, dragged violently from one judge to another; I shall be cruelly scourged, crowned with thorns, mocked and spit upon. My enemies will place a heavy cross upon My shoulders, and lead Me in disgrace and shame through the streets of the city out to Mount Calvary, where they will nail Me to the cross."
Alas, what a dreadful revelation this must have been to the tender heart of the Blessed Virgin ! Every word pierced her soul to its deepest recesses, carrying excruciating anguish and grief to every sense; so that she stood almost lifeless before Jesus, and unable to utter one word or even to breathe a sigh.
Jesus, seeing her thus struck motionless and almost dead with grief and sorrow, said to her: Most beloved and sorrowful Mother, why dost thou take it so much to heart? Wouldst thou that I should not drink the chalice which My Father has prepared for Me? Is My Father's will no longer thy will? Take courage, and submit thy will to that of our Father in heaven, and prepare thyself for the dreadful struggle before us."
"O my beloved Child, how is it possible for me to repress these tears? For although I am satisfied with the will of God, and perfectly reconciled to His providence, yet am I not Thy Mother? It is impossible for a mother's heart not to bleed at the sufferings of her child. O my beloved Son Jesus, I regret that I thus, by wailings and lamentations, must add to the weight of Thy cross; yet I cannot restrain these tears, I cannot suppress these sighs. Grant me the one request that I am going to ask."
" Dearest Mother, thou knowest that I was always obedient and ready to do thy will in all things. Name thy request, and if not inconsistent with My Father's will, it shall be granted."
" Beloved Child of my heart, Thou knowest how my heart is bound up in Thee, and how utterly impossible it is for me to be separated from Thee. And yet, God's will be done! I would beseech Thee not to choose so cruel and disgraceful a death as that of being crucified. Thou knowest that only the greatest malefactors are subjected to that kind of death. How dreadfully hard it would be for Thee to be thus scourged, crowned with thorns, and nailed to the cross. And yet one single drop of Thy blood would be sufficient to atone for all the sins ever committed. I implore Thee, then, not to undergo so dreadful a martyrdom, but to choose an easier death."
"Dearly beloved Mother, divine justice requires that I should suffer, the most excruciating pain and the most disgraceful death, in order that the sin of Adam and the sins of all men may be completely washed away. For just as sinners have presumed to dishonor My heavenly Father, so must I be dishonored and disgraced to the last degree. As sinners have committed sin with all the members of their body, so must I suffer in every member. As sinners have, by their sins, justly merited eternal and painful death, so must I, in order to save them from this death, undergo a cruel and torturous death. Such is the death predicted for Me long ages ago by the prophets, as thou hast often heard and read. And in order that the prophecies concerning My death may be fulfilled, it is My Father's will that I should redeem the world, not simply by shedding one drop of blood, but by pouring out the whole of My heart's life-blood."
Consider, O Christian soul, the profound grief of the Blessed Virgin, as she listened to these words of her be-loved Son. Unable to speak from her sighs and tears, burying her face in her hands, she fell upon her knees before Him. Filled with tenderest sympathy, Jesus placed His divine hand gently upon her head, and imparted to her a miraculous strength, so that she recovered enough to raise her eyes to His, and to say: "Dearest Son, adorable Lord, be it done according to Thy word."
On the following day, Jesus, having but little time to remain with His friends in Bethany, thus addressed them: "My dearest friends, the time having now arrived when I must go forth to do the will of My Father, I must take My leave of you. I thank you all sincerely for the kindness and friendship which you have ever shown to My disciples and to Me. My heavenly Father will reward you and compensate you a hundredfold for all the kind services you have rendered us. I thank you, good and devout women, who, from your slender means, have so faithfully and generously ministered to Me and to My poor disciples. To you, especially, Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, is My gratitude due; for you have often and cheerfully given shelter and a place of rest to My weary companions, and often generously given them to eat and drink when they were hungry and thirsty."
Finally, Jesus turned toward His blessed Mother to say farewell to her, but both Mother and Son were so over-powered with emotion that for some minutes neither could utter a word. Whoever has witnessed the parting of two faithful and loving hearts when one goes forth to meet certain death, may form a slight and very imperfect conception of the harrowing grief which rent the hearts of Jesus and Mary in this trying hour. At last Our Saviour said to her: "Dearest Mother, I am grateful for all the motherly love, fidelity, and devotion which thou hast manifested to Me through a life of poverty and affliction. My heavenly Father Himself will one day be thy reward. He will repay thee for thy unswerving fidelity to Me, who am His Son and thine."
Here, devout reader, try to comprehend the solemn effect of these farewell words upon the soul of Our Lord's blessed Mother and the other personages of this little group. All were in tears as Mary said: " Beloved Son, adorable Lord, may the will of God be done." Then our blessed Lord went forth with His apostles to Jerusalem, there to accomplish the greatest of mysteries, the atonement for man's sin.
This beautiful, simple, and graphic description of the farewell scene between Jesus and His mother must, of course, not be taken literally as having happened thus; it is a pious meditation, from which devout and childlike souls will derive much profit and salutary edification.