Yesterday’s topic was about having a hardened heart. Today we see why it is so important that we try to avoid this. Yesterday, I posted the 10 commandants from Exodus and today we are taught the greatest of these commandments in our Gospel. The Lord our God is Lord alone!You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…It seems to me that it would be rather hard to love God in the proper manner if our hearts have become hardened. We are also given another bit of wisdom to follow in our first reading from the prophet Hosea…
Let him who is wise understand these things;
let him who is prudent know them.
Straight are the paths of the LORD,
in them the just walk,
but sinners stumble in them.
And even more in our Psalm (81)…
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
“There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt.”
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
“If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
I would feed them with the best of wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would fill them.”
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
Having he movie The Passion of Christ by Mel Gibson and now reading the Dolorous Passion of Christ by Blessed Elizabeth Anne Emmerich, I now know where he received a lot of his inspiration for the movie. In the movie, following Christ’s agony in the garden and having been arrested, they began their journey back to the Temple for Annas and Caiphas to “interrogate” Him. In that scene, they show Christ following over a bridge. Never, in my 54 years of reading the Passion at Church, do I recall such a recount in the either Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. But in reading the visions of Blessed Emmerich this lent, I offer you the following from her…
The archers, who now proceeded to pinion Jesus with the greatest brutality, were pagans of the lowest extraction, short, stout, and active, with sandy complexions, resembling those of Egyptian slaves, and bare legs, arms, and neck.
They tied his hands as tightly as possible with hard new cords, fastening the right-hand wrist under the left elbow, and the left-hand wrist under the right elbow. They encircled his waist with a species of belt studded with iron points, and bound his hands to it with osier bands, while on his neck they put a collar covered with iron points, and to this collar were appended two leathern straps, which were crossed over his chest like a stole and fastened to the belt. They then fastened four ropes to different parts of the belt, and by means of these ropes dragged our Blessed Lord from side to side in the most cruel manner. The ropes were new; I think they were purchased when the Pharisees first determined to arrest Jesus. The Pharisees lighted fresh torches, and the procession started. Ten soldiers walked in front, the archers who held the ropes and dragged Jesus along, followed, and the Pharisees and ten other soldiers brought up the rear. The disciples wandered about at a distance, and wept and moaned as if beside themselves from grief. John alone followed, and walked at no great distance from the soldiers, until the Pharisees, seeing him, ordered the guards to arrest him. They endeavoured to obey, but he ran away, leaving in their hands a cloth with which he was covered, and of which they had taken hold when they endeavoured to seize him. He had slipped off his coat, that he might escape more easily from the hands of his enemies, and kept nothing on but a short under garment without sleeves, and the long band which the Jews usually wore, and which was wrapped round his neck, head, and arms. The archers behaved in the most cruel manner to Jesus as they led him along; this they did to curry favour with the six Pharisees, who they well knew perfectly hated and detested our Lord. They led him along the roughest road they could select, over the sharpest stones, and through the thickest mire; they pulled the cords as tightly as possible; they struck him with knotted cords, as a butcher would strike the beast he is about to slaughter; and they accompanied this cruel treatment with such ignoble and indecent insults that I cannot recount them. The feet of Jesus were bare; he wore, besides the ordinary dress, a seamless woollen garment, and a cloak which was thrown over all. I have forgotten to state that when Jesus was arrested, it was done without any order being presented or legal ceremony taking place; he was treated as a person without the pale of the law.
The procession proceeded at a good pace; when they left the road which runs between the Garden of Olives and that of Gethsemani, they turned to the right, and soon reached a bridge which was thrown over the Torrent of Cedron. When Jesus went to the Garden of Olives with the Apostles, he did not cross this bridge, but went by a private path which ran through the Valley of Josaphat, and led to another bridge more to the south. The bridge over which the soldiers led Jesus was long, being thrown over not only the torrent, which was very large in this part, but likewise over the valley, which extends a considerable distance to the right and to the left, and is much lower than the bed of the river. I saw our Lord fall twice before he reached the bridge, and these falls were caused entirely by the barbarous manner in which the soldiers dragged him; but when they were half over the bridge they gave full vent to their brutal inclinations, and struck Jesus with such violence that they threw him off the bridge into the water, and scornfully recommended him to quench his thirst there. If God had not preserved him, he must have been killed by this fall; he fell first on his knee, and then on his face, but saved himself a little by stretching. out his hands, which, although so tightly bound before, were loosened, I know not whether by miracle, or whether the soldiers had cut the cords before they threw him into the water. The marks of his feet, his elbows, and his fingers were miraculously impressed on the rock on which he fell, and these impressions were afterwards shown for the veneration of Christians. These stones were less hard than the unbelieving hearts of the wicked men who surrounded Jesus, and bore witness at this terrible moment to the Divine Power which had touched them.
I had not seen Jesus take anything to quench the thirst which had consumed him ever since his agony in the garden, but he drank when he fell into the Cedron, and I; heard him repeat these words from the prophetic Psalm, ‘In his thirst he will drink water from the torrent’ (Psalm cviii.).
The archers still held the ends of the ropes with which Jesus was bound, but it would have been difficult to drag him out of the water on that side, on account of a wall which was built on the shore; they turned back and dragged him quite through the Cedron to the shore, and then made him cross the bridge a second time, accompanying their every action with insults, blasphemies and blows. His long woollen garment, which was quite soaked through, adhered to his legs, impeded every movement, and rendered it almost impossible for him to walk, and when he reached the end of the bridge he fell quite down. They pulled him up again in the most cruel manner, struck him with cords, and fastened the ends of his wet garment to the belt, abusing him at the same time in the most cowardly manner. It was not quite midnight when I saw the four archers inhumanly dragging Jesus over a narrow path, which was choked up with stones, fragments of rock, thistles, and thorns, on the opposite shore of the Cedron. The six brutal Pharisees walked as close to our Lord as they could, struck him constantly with thick pointed sticks, and seeing that his bare and bleeding feet were torn by the stones and briars, exclaimed scornfully: ‘His precursor, John the Baptist, has certainly not prepared a good path for him here;’ or, ‘ The words of Malachy, ” Behold, I send my angel be/ore thy face, to prepare the way before thee,” do not exactly apply now.’ Every jest uttered by these men incited the archers to greater cruelty.
In reading through this, the line that stood out for me again was These stones were less hard than the unbelieving hearts of the wicked men who surrounded Jesus, and bore witness at this terrible moment to the Divine Power which had touched them. So I will contemplate today – has my heart become hardened? Am I capable of loving God and loving my neighbor?
Do something great for our Lord today – love Him with all of your soul, all of your mind, all of your strength, ALL OF YOUR HEART. And then love your neighbor in the same manner.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.