Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Jesus has said, 'My soul is sorrowful even unto death.' But the words are inadequate; the sorrow of Jesus goes far beyond the bounds of death. Death reaches only the body, and there are limits to what the body can endure. There are sufferings which normally would break the human heart; but God can, if He wills, sustain the soul's frail consort so that the spirit may suffer the more. Death will now stay its hand at the threshold of agony, but for the soul there will be no limit. Chalice upon chalice will be offered Him, until the very Cross will come as a welcome relief. Who shall enter into these depths, and who shall describe how, after those tears of blood that redden the ground, a still more copious flood of tears bathes that soul divine, like a current that flows in the depths of the sea?
We can never comprehend this vision of Jesus, but we may infer it. In the foreground appears death with its retinue of pain and suffering. The Cross has suddenly reared itself before Him. Admittedly the Cross is familiar to His thought, and He has accepted it from the beginning. He speaks of the morrow as 'His hour,' saying, 'For this cause came I unto this hour.' But do we not all know the suddenly vivid horror that a prospect may assume after long habit has dulled its outlines? When pain is all-absorbing and the whole mind is concentrated upon its image, then the torture exceeds all bounds. So it is with the Son of Man.
'My heart is troubled within me: and the fear of death is fallen upon me. Fear and trembling are come upon me: and darkness hath covered me.' So far as words can convey, these expressions of the Psalmist give a faithful picture of the agony of Jesus. He is scourged by His thoughts and crucified by His knowledge of what is to come. His visions drag Him across the garden, up the slope to the house of Annas, to the lodge of Caiaphas, to the tower of Antonia, along the streets to death and to the tomb. He sees it all; and for a moment He is seized with an obsession that He cannot shake off. Flat on His face, arms extended, He tastes the extreme bitterness of desolation."
-- What Jesus saw from the Cross by A. G. Sertillanges, OP
** Painting by Ary Sheffer