Christ's love for us in His Passion


Holy week should be the holiest week in the year for us! In this week we see the depths of the love that Jesus had for all of us to save our immortal soul for all eternity.  The saints agree unanimously that if we really want to plumb the depths of the love that Jesus had for us we should meditate and contemplate His passion, suffering, and death. Jesus Himself taught us:  “No greater love has a man than that he lay down his life for his friends.” This is exactly what Jesus did: He sacrificed His life for us, dying for us on the cross, so as to give us life and life in abundance.

St. Ignatius of Loyola highlights an important point related to the passion, suffering and death of Jesus and it is this: Jesus died for all, but most important that He died for me.  If you were the only person in the whole created universe, Jesus would have gone through all of the most atrocious torments for you and for your eternal salvation.  This highlights the extreme importance of the salvation of your immortal soul and the immense love that Jesus has for you!

What are ways then that way can live out Holy Week and strive with all of the fibers of our being to plumb the depths of the love of Jesus for you and for me? Indeed Jesus loves each and every one of us beyond the capacity of our imagination, but He wants us to love Him in return. Love demands a response of love in return.

In this short essay we would like to present ten specific ways in which we can enter deeper into the loving and merciful and sorrowful Heart of Jesus and Mary and live to the fullest the Holy Week which indeed is a week full of graces for the whole world. Let us take advantage of these graces. The Lord stands at the door and knocks; let us open the door and let Him in. (Rev. 3:20) the following are ten practical action steps to take to live out the Holy Week to the fullest extent possible!  Let us be generous with God who has been so generous to us by the sacrifice of Calvary, dying the death of love for us on the cross!

1.    READ THE GOSPELS ACCOUNTS OF THE PASSION.  Read prayerfully and ponder the four Gospel accounts of the Passion of Christ. Each Gospel recounts the Passion of Christ, but each with a different perspective or nuance.  If you like they can be found as such: ( Mt. 26-27, Mk. 15-15, Lk. 22-23, and finally Jn. 18-19.) These eight chapters present the passion, suffering and death of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  One of these accounts is read on Palm Sunday and another on Good Friday. However, it is very profitable to spend more time in calmness and peace to meditate and pray over these mysteries of our salvation. It takes time, effort, good will and prayer to plumb the depths of God’s love for us!

2.    THE WAY OF THE CROSS.  This ancient practice can ignite within our hearts a deeper love for Jesus who loved us so much, to the point of shedding every drop of His Precious Blood for us.  The last few years the Popes have gone to the Colosseum on Good Friday to publically walk the Way of the Cross.  There are fourteen different stations and each one of them represents a specific moment or action of Jesus, leading up to His crucifixion, death and burial. While making the Way of the Cross, in prayer, you might ask the Lord which of these fourteen stations speaks most to you right now in the concrete circumstances of your life. Jesus asked Saint Faustina Kowalska, in the Diary, to make the Way of the Cross every day (when she had the time) at 3:00 p.m. which is the Hour of Mercy.

3.     SACRAMENTAL CONFESSION. Holy Week is a most propitious time of the year to examine our consciences and try to make the best confession of our lives. Jesus is the King of mercy and He manifests His mercy, within the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church, most powerfully in the Sacrament of Confession. As the Prophet Isaiah exhorts us with encouraging words, we should approach this throne of God’s mercy: “Though your sins be as red as scarlet, I will make them as white as the snow.”(Is. 1:18) Jesus shed His Precious Blood on Calvary that first Good Friday so that our souls would be washed clean by His Precious Blood in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Let us approach this throne of mercy with confidence and trust! JESUS I TRUST IN YOU

4.    BE MERCIFUL TOWARDS OTHERS.  Of great consolation to the suffering Heart of Jesus is when the Lord notices our sincere attempts to be merciful to others, especially the members of our own family. Jesus expressed this clearly in the Gospel: “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.”(Lk. 6:36) Indeed if we want to experience the mercy of Jesus then we must show mercy to others. If in the Holy Week we are still holding on to past resentments, grudges, bitterness—in a word, lack of forgiveness—now is the time to be reconciled with God by being reconciled to others.

5.    CONTEMPLATE THE CROSS.  Another very salutary spiritual practice, related to the Passion of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is to spend time in silent contemplation before a graphic image of Jesus nailed to the cross. Many saints, especially Saint Francis, derived unspeakable graces by contemplating Jesus on the cross. As your eyes fix themselves upon the gaping wounds in Jesus’ hands and feet and side, open up your heart and talk to the Lord Jesus. Form a colloquy. Have a heart to heart conversation with the Lord. Tell the Lord how much you love Him, how grateful you are for His excruciating pains and sufferings that He suffered for you. Then offer yourself to the Lord by your generosity and willingness to work with Him for conversion of sinners and the salvation of immortal souls. If you like, end by kissing the wounds as a gesture of your great love for your Lord, God and Savior.

6.    VIEW THE FILM: THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. (Mel Gibson).  Many over the past few years have been profoundly touched by the film “The Passion of the Christ.”  This could be a most profitable and profound experience to view this film. However, make a sincere effort not to view the film as a mere Hollywood rendition, as a typical movie. Rather, try to view the film as a contemplative prayer experience. You might even bring pad and pencil and note which of the many powerful scenes touched you most. Then utilize those scenes in your own prayer life, your own contemplative life, to plumb the infinite abyss of the love of Jesus for you and me. Remember, that if you were the only person in the created universe, Jesus would go through the sufferings that you witness in this film for your eternal salvation. How great is the love of Jesus for you and for me!

7.    OFFER UP YOUR OWN SUFFERINGS IN MASS.  Jesus went through His Passion and death for our eternal salvation. However, it must be acknowledged with humility and trust that all of us have to go through our own Way of the Cross, our own Calvary, carry our own cross, experience our own crucifixion, in the way that God in His divine Providence has planned for us.  In prayer recognize and come to terms with and accept the sufferings that you experience on a daily basis. These sufferings might be physical, social, psychological, spiritual, economic, or moral. A key to living out the Passion of Jesus and to really growing in holiness is to recognize our sufferings and to offer them up.  By far the most efficacious means to sanctify our sufferings is to place them on the altar in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Then when the priest lifts up the Host and the Chalice, then your sufferings are united with the Passion of Christ and offered to God the Father for the salvation of the entire world.  In a certain sense we are all called to be victims and to unite our sufferings with Jesus THE VICITM—the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen defines the priest as such: “The priest is the victim who offers the VICTIM.” Let us never waste our sufferings but unite them to the Savior and Victim, the Lord Jesus! Indeed, as St Paul reminds us we can fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. (Col. 1: 24)

8.    DIVINE MERCY NOVENA.  Let us all make the decision to make the novena of Divine mercy starting on Good Friday which ends the Sunday after Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. How to be done? Obtain a pamphlet with the Divine mercy prayers and pray the corresponding prayer every day for nine days. In addition to the prayer also pray the Chaplet of Divine mercy. Carrying out this novena and praying the Chaplet are two practices that can console immensely Jesus in the hours of his most bitter passion.

9.    MEDITATE UPON THE SEVEN LAST WORDS OF JESUS.   As Jesus hung from the cross He preaches His last and His most eloquent sermon, the sermon of His seven last words. (Really seven short sentences). Incredible graces can flow from the deep meditation of Jesus’ last words. Here they are:

·       “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”  (Lk. 23:34)

·       “My God my God, why have you forsaken me.”(Mt. 27:46) This was also a fulfillment of the prophetic statement in Psalm 22:1

·       “I thirst”. (Jn. 19:28) Jesus was fulfilling the Messianic prophecy from Psalm 69:21

·       “Amen, amen I say to you today you will be with me in Paradise”(Lk.23:43)

·       “Woman behold thy son; son behold they mother.”(Jn. 19:26-27)

·       “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.”(Lk. 23:46)

·       “It is finished.” (Jn. 19:30)

10. CONTEMPLATE THE PASSION AND DEATH THROUGH MARY.  There was nobody on earth that understood Jesus better than Mary His mother. Our Lady was chosen to be His Mother. She was chosen to give to Jesus His human nature. Mary carried Jesus in her womb for nine months. She spent thirty years with Jesus before he left to enter into His Public life of preaching, working miracles and expelling demons. In the film of Mel Gibson, the Passion of the Christ, Our Lady followed Our Lord every step along the way to the top of Mount Calvary. She was there to witness with her own eyes and suffer in her heart the nails that penetrated His Sacred flesh that she gave to Him. What must have seemed an eternity; Our Lady of Sorrows stood beneath the cross for three long hours witnessing the last agony of her Son Jesus as she saw and heard the Precious Blood of Jesus trickle to the ground, the price of our eternal redemption. Then even after Jesus breathed forth His spirit into the hands of the eternal Father Our Lady still suffered as she witnessed the sword pierce through the Sacred side of Jesus and blood and water came gushing forth. For that reason Mary is acclaimed as the Queen of Martyrs. What Jesus suffered in His Body, Mary suffered in her soul as the sword pierced to the very depths of her soul, carrying out the fulfillment the prophecy of Simeon in the temple: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted. And you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.”(Lk. 2:34-35). Therefore, one of the most powerful means to arrive at the heights, and depths and width of the passion, suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ is to contemplate His suffering through the eyes and the Heart of Mary. Mary suffered this also for love of you and me.  Saint Augustine said of Our Lady: “If we were to put all of the love of all of the mothers of the world of all times together, this would not be equal to the love that Our Lady has for you and for me.” May Our Lady lead us into the very depths of the love of Jesus for you and me. May we beg for the eyes and heart of Mary to contemplate our loving Redeemer!