James and John thought they were man enough to drink from that Chalice. I guess the true question to think about today is am I strong enough to drink from that Chalice?
Couldn’t sleep much last night so I spent time reading from the Dolorous Passion of Christ. I am now reading her visions of Christ’s Agony in the Garden. What vivid visions Blessed Emmerich had; what a gift she was given to share with all of us. The clarity of her visions and the clarity of the writer to be able to put her visions into this book have been a blessing for me this Lent. Let me share with you what I read early this morning.
And now a long ray of light, like a luminous path in the air, descended from Heaven; it was a procession of angels who came up to Jesus and strengthened and reinvigorated him. The remainder of the grotto was filled with frightful visions of our crimes; Jesus took them all upon himself, but that adorable Heart, which was so filled with the most perfect love for God and man, was flooded with anguish, and overwhelmed beneath the weight of so many abominable crimes. When this huge mass of iniquities, like the waves of a fathomless ocean, had passed over his soul, Satan brought forward innumerable temptations, as he had formerly done in the desert, even daring to adduce various accusations against him. ‘And takest thou all these things upon thyself,’ he exclaimed, ‘thou who art not unspotted thyself?’ Then he laid to the charge of our Lord, with infernal impudence, a host of imaginary crimes. He reproached him with the faults of his disciples, the scandals which they had caused, and the disturbances which he had occasioned in the world by giving up ancient customs. No Pharisee, however wily and severe, could have surpassed Satan on this occasion; he reproached Jesus with having been the cause of the massacre of the Innocents, as well as of the sufferings of his parents in Egypt, with not having saved John the Baptist from death, with having brought disunion into families, protected men of despicable character, refused to cure various sick persons, injured the inhabitants of Gergesa by permitting men possessed by the devil to overturn their vats,* and demons to make swine cast themselves into the sea; with having deserted his family, and squandered the property of others; in one word Satan, in the hopes of causing Jesus to waver, suggested to him every thought by which he would have tempted at the hour of death an ordinary mortal who might have performed all these actions without a superhuman intention; for it was hidden from him that Jesus was the Son of God, and he tempted him only as the most just of men. Our Divine Saviour permitted his humanity thus to preponderate over his divinity, for he was pleased to endure even those temptations with which holy souls are assailed at the hour of death concerning the merit of their good works. That he might drink the chalice of suffering even to the dregs, he permitted the evil spirit to tempt his sacred humanity, as he would have tempted a man who should wish to attribute to his good works some special value in themselves, over and above what they might have by their union with the merits of our Saviour. There was not an action out of which he did not contrive to frame some accusation, and he reproached Jesus, among other things, with having spent the price of the property of Mary Magdalen at Magdalum, which he had received from Lazarus.
* On the 11th of December 1812, in her visions of the public life of Jesus, she saw our Lord permit the devils whom he had expelled from the men of Gergesa to enter into a herd of swine. She also saw, on this particular occasion, that the possessed men first overturned a large vat filled with some fermented liquid.
Among the sins of the world which Jesus took upon himself, I saw also my own; and a stream, in which I distinctly beheld each of my faults, appeared to flow towards me from out of the temptations with which he was encircled. During this time my eyes were fixed upon my Heavenly Spouse; with him I wept and prayed, and with him I turned towards the consoling angels. Ah, truly did our dear Lord writhe like a worm beneath the weight of his anguish and sufferings!
Whilst Satan was pouring forth his accusations against Jesus, it was with difficulty that I could restrain my indignation, but when he spoke of the sale of Magdalen’s property, I could no longer keep silence, and exclaimed: ‘How canst thou reproach him with the sale of this property as with a crime? Did I not myself see our Lord spend the sum which was given him by Lazarus in works of mercy, and deliver twenty-eight debtors imprisoned at Thirza?’
At first Jesus looked calm, as he kneeled down and prayed, but after a time his soul became terrified at the sight of the innumerable crimes of men, and of their ingratitude towards God, and his anguish was so great that he trembled and shuddered as he exclaimed: ‘Father, if is possible, let this chalice pass from me! Father, all things are possible to thee, remove this chalice from me!” But the next moment he added: ‘Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.’ His will and that of his Father were one, but now that his love had ordained that he should be left to all the weakness of his human nature, he trembled at the prospect of death.
I saw the cavern in which he was kneeling filled with frightful figures; I saw all the sins, wickedness, vices, and ingratitude of mankind torturing and crushing him to the earth; the horror of death and terror which he felt as man at the sight of the expiatory sufferings about to come upon him, surrounded and assailed his Divine Person under the forms of hideous spectres. He fell from side to side, clasping his hands; his body was covered with a cold sweat, and he trembled and shuddered. He then arose, but his knees were shaking and apparently scarcely able to support him; his countenance was pale, and quite altered in appearance, his lips white, and his hair standing on end. It was about half-past ten o’clock when he arose from his knees, and, bathed in a cold sweat, directed his trembling, weak footsteps towards his three Apostles. With difficulty did he ascend the left side of the cavern, and reach a spot where the ground was level, and where they were sleeping, exhausted with fatigue, sorrow and anxiety. He came to them, like a man overwhelmed with bitter sorrow, whom terror urges to seek his friends, but like also to a good shepherd, who, when warned of the approach of danger, hastens to visit his flock, the safety of which is threatened; for he well knew that they also were being tried by suffering and temptation. The terrible visions never left him, even while he was thus seeking his disciples. When he found that they were asleep, he clasped his hands and fell down on his knees beside them, overcome with sorrow and anxiety, and said: ‘Simon, sleepest: thou?’ They awoke, and raised him up, and he, in his desolation of spirit, said to them: ‘What? Could you not watch one hour with me?’ When they looked at him, and saw him pale and exhausted, scarcely able to support himself, bathed in sweat, trembling and shuddering,—when they heard how changed and almost inaudible his voice had become, they did not know what to think, and had he not been still surrounded by a well-known halo of light, they would never have recognised him as Jesus. John said to him: ‘Master, what has befallen thee? Must I call the other disciples? Ought we to take to flight?’ Jesus answered him: ‘Were I to live, teach, and perform miracles for thirty-three years longer, that would not suffice for the accomplishment of what must be fulfilled before this time tomorrow. Call not the eight; I did not bring them hither, because they could not see me thus agonising without being scandalised; they would yield to temptation, forget much of the past, and lose their confidence in me. But you, who have seen the Son of Man transfigured, may also see him under a cloud, and in dereliction of spirit; nevertheless, watch and pray, lest ye fall into temptation, for the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’
Reflect on Blessed Emmerich’s vision for awhile and then read today’s Gospel with those reflections in mind. Because of my sins Christ endured His scourging and Crucifixion. If I am willing to drink from the Chalice of the Lord – am I willing to endure all of that pain and suffering? Am I willing to become a servant of all? Am I willing to place the good of others – regardless of who those others are – ahead of the good of myself?
Do something great for our Lord today – pray that we all are willing to be the servants of all mankind; pray that all prejudices cease to be; pray that we are all willing to drink from that Chalice – the cup of Life, the Cup of eternal salvation.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.