VICTIM—SELF-GIVING LOVE AND SUFFERING TO SAVE THE WORLD: JESUS DID ALL FOR YOU AND ME!
Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen comments on the many names and titles that we can give for Jesus. Jesus might be called the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Bread of Life and the Living Water. He also might be called the Lamb of God, the Alpha and Omega, as well as the Good Shepherd. However, the Name that most perfectly exemplifies the purpose of Jesus’s coming and the purpose of His death and Resurrection is that of SAVIOR! Jesus’ mission was to save all of humanity, as well as our individual immortal souls from the clasp of the devil and the fiery pit of hell!
SAVIOR. Why Savior? Only Jesus could save us from moral corruption, from moral slavery, from moral depravation—all of this refers to the reality of sin. Indeed sin is moral corruption, moral slavery and moral depravation.
THE MEANS HE CHOSE TO SAVE US. Jesus could have chosen one out of a million ways or means to save all of humanity; being God He could have chosen an infinity of channels by which we could be extricated from immoral quicksand in which all of us were destined for drowning! Indeed, Jesus being both God and man through His Incarnation could have saved the world with, the so to speak, smallest and most insignificant action imaginable.
INFINITE VALUE OF THE SMALLEST ACTION. Jesus being God-man, the smallest of His actions could have saved all of humanity a billion times over! Jesus simply breathing once, lifting up a nail, stretching out His hand, shedding one tear, removing a speck or dust-particle from the eyes of anybody—all of these most simple actions could have saved the world a billion times over.
HIS PASSION, SUFFERING AND DEATH. However, Jesus went way beyond the simple and insignificant to save all of humanity as well as the souls of each and every one of us individually. He went to the extreme limits! Jesus chose to undergo all of the most excruciating pains of His Passion and death to save all of humanity and that includes your individual soul. How precious you are and your soul is in the eyes of Jesus the Lord. Saint Ignatius of Loyola points out that Jesus went to the extremes of suffering so much in His Passion for two reasons: 1) To show us the gravity and serious reality of sin—sin nailed the God man to the tree; 2) LOVE. “No greater love than to die for the one you love.” Especially Jesus chose the most humiliating and painful of deaths—that of the Roman crucifixion!
CONTEMPLATE THE LIST OF SUFFERINGS THAT JESUS UNDERWENT!!!!
Jesus willingly, totally and lovingly underwent all of these excruciating pains for love of you and me. Still more Jesus would willingly repeat these sufferings if you were the only one in the whole universe. How precious you and the salvation of your immortal soul is in the eyes of Almighty God. Spends some time in silence to contemplate these many manners of the suffering of Jesus!
1. Jesus sweating of Blood in the Garden of Gethsemane- all for your soul! Big drops of His Precious Blood trickled to the ground!
2. ABANDONMENT. The defection of His best Friends; He suffered this for your immortal soul. Friends leaving us and abandoning us when we most need their presence and friendship is bitter indeed!
3. SCOURGING AT THE PILLAR. Jesus was brutally bound, stripped, and mercilessly whipped to the point that His Sacred Body was reduced to an open wound. All of this for love, pure love! Pools of His Precious Blood bathed the dirty ground!
4. CROWNING WITH THORNS. They pressed sharp and piercing thorns that penetrated His brow, skull, even to His brain. This was the price of our immortal redemption! Lord, have mercy on me for my immoral and sinful thoughts!
5. THE CROSS. The cross He carried was loaded with all of the sins of the world, your sins and mine. So heavy was the cross that Jesus fell more than once under the heavy weight.
6. OPEN WOUND IN THE SHOULDER. St. Bernard and other saints have meditated on a very painful wound—the bloody wound in Jesus’ shoulder that was opened and reopened as He fell under the heavy weight of the cross. Jesus shouldered your sins and allowed His shoulder to be splintered and bleed, shouldering all of our moral misery. How much His love for us!
7. BLOODY SWEAT. The weight of the cross, the sun and the heat of the day caused Jesus to sweat immensely. Contemplate the sweat of the Body of Jesus, all done for your salvation and mine. What a costly price that of the salvation of your immortal soul!
8. STRIPPING OF HIS GARMENTS. As Jesus reaches close to the top of Mount Calvary where crucifixion awaits Him the soldiers brutally grab on to Him and rip His garments off. By doing so the wounds are opened once again and blood comes running like a stream. This Jesus suffered for the sins against the virtue of modesty and the sins against the virtue of chastity! O Lord grant us pure minds, bodies and souls!
9. CRUCIFIXION. Finally Jesus arrives at His destiny—the top of the hill called Calvary. Awaiting Jesus is still more intense suffering—that of the crucifixion. His sacred Hands are nailed to the cross; Blood comes gushing forth. His feet are nailed to the cross and once again the Blood comes gushing forth—all of this to repair for the many times that we have used our hands and feet and members to offend God in one or many different ways. Lord, have mercy on us and forgive us! Now O Lord I gave you my hands and feet to serve you.
10. INSULTS. As Jesus hangs between heaven and earth, suffering the last hours of His life in bitter agony still more sufferings descend upon Him. There are those close to the cross who blurt out bitters words and insults. Not only does Jesus suffer physical abuse but still more verbal abuse. These angry and bitter words cut into His very heart and soul. However, Jesus does not become bitter. Rather He responds with these words: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”
11. APPARENT TOTAL ABANDONMENT. One of the worse sufferings imaginable is to think that even God has abandoned or forsaken you! Saint John of the Cross explains this in his mystical writings called “The Dark Night of the Soul”. Jesus experienced in this dark night the apparent absence of the Face of His eternal Father—at least in His human nature when He cried out: “My God, My God why have you abandoned me.” Jesus suffered this willingly for those who have abandoned God by rejecting God or by giving in to serious sin—another way that we can reject the Presence of God!
12. UNREPENTANT THIEF. Until the end Jesus worked to save, but one of the thieves despite the over-flowing mercy of Jesus hardened his heart all the more. Indeed one of the greatest sufferings of Jesus was to endure His infinite love rejected.
13. LOSS OF BLOOD, SLOW SUFFOCATION, UTTER EXHAUSTION. Physically Jesus loss much of His Sacred Blood, His breathing became all the more labored and His exhaustion became extreme. Up to the very end Jesus was giving all He had to save souls. How great the love of Jesus for you and for me!
14. RELIGIOUS INDIFFERENCE. There underneath the cross the soldiers shot dice to see who could win the garments of Jesus—total indifference to the Person and mission of Jesus. How much Jesus suffers this very day due to religious indifference, apathy and a non-chalant “who-cares” (“whatever”) attitude of life. Jesus came to cast fire in a world cloaked in a dense cloud of indifference! May God have mercy on us for taking Him for granted!!! Lord Jesus set my heart on fire for love of you and the salvation of immortal souls.
15. LOVE NOT LOVED. Possibly the greatest interior agony of Jesus was the hard and cruel fact of His mission of love being rejected. Jesus gives freedom to every individual on earth. Therefore, He forces Himself on nobody. His love not being accepted, especially His love manifested by His suffering, caused Jesus mortal anguish.
In conclusion, meditate slowly and fervently upon all of the different ways or manners that Jesus willingly suffered for you and the eternal salvation of your immortal soul. Then meditate upon the words of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and act on these words: “What have I done for Jesus Christ? What am I doing for Jesus Christ? What will I do for Jesus Christ?” My past, present and future! May Our Lady who suffered and offered herself to Jesus for salvation of countless souls help us to appreciate more and more the infinite love that God has for your soul and for mine. We have been redeemed not by gold or silver nor the blood of animals, but by the Precious Blood of Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!