On the uppermost part of the Cross the reason for the sentence is written: Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews (John 19:19). And all who pass by insult him and jeer at him.
If he is the king of Israel, let him come down here and now from the cross (Matt 27:42).
One of the thieves comes to his defence:
This man has done no evil... (Luke 23:41).
Then, turning to Jesus, he makes a humble request, full of faith: Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom (Luke 23:42).
Truly, I say to thee: This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise (Luke 23:43).
At the foot of the Cross stands his Mother, Mary, with other holy women. Jesus looks at her; then he looks at the disciple whom he loves, and he says to his Mother:
Woman, behold thy son.
Then he says to the disciple:
Behold thy mother (John 19:26-27).
The sun 's light is extinguished and the earth is left in darkness. It is close on three o 'clock, when Jesus cries out:
Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? That is: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matt 27:46).
Then, knowing that all things are about to be accomplished, that the Scriptures may be fulfilled, he says:
I am thirsty (John 19:28).
The soldiers soak a sponge in vinegar and, placing it on a reed of hyssop, they put it to his mouth. Jesus sips the vinegar, and exclaims:
It is accomplished (John 19:30).
The veil of the temple is rent, and the earth trembles, when the Lord cries out in a loud voice:
Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit (Luke 23:46).
And he expires.
Love sacrifice; it is a fountain of interior life. Love the Cross, which is an altar of sacrifice. Love pain, until you drink, as Christ did, the very dregs of the chalice.
Points for meditation
1. Et inclinato capite, tradidit spiritum, and bowing his head, he gave up his spirit (John 19:30).
Jesus has breathed his last. His disciples had so often heard him say: meus cibus est..., my food is to do the will of him that sent me and to bring his work to fulfilment (John 4:34). He has done so to the end, patiently, humbly, and without holding anything back... Oboediens usque ad mortem (Phil 2:8); he was obedient unto death, even death on a Cross!
2. A Cross. A body fastened with nails to the wood. His side pierced... Only his Mother, a few women and a young man remain with Jesus.
The apostles? Where are they? And the people who were healed of their infirmities: the lame, the blind, the lepers?... And those who had acclaimed him? Not a single one acknowledges him! Christ is surrounded by silence.
You too some day may feel the loneliness of Our Lord on the Cross. If so, seek the support of him who died and rose again. Find yourself a shelter in the wounds in his hands, in his feet, in his side. And your willingness to start again will revive, and you will take up your journey again with greater determination and effectiveness.
3. There is a false asceticism which presents the Lord on the Cross as furious and rebellious. A contorted body apparently threatening mankind: 'You have broken me, but I will hurl down on you my nails, my cross and my thorns. '
Such people do not know the spirit of Christ. He suffered all that he could and, being God, how much he could suffer! But he was loving even more than he was suffering... And, after dying, he consented to let the lance open another wound, so that you and I might find refuge next to his most loving Heart.
4. Many times have I repeated that verse of the Eucharistic hymn: Peto quod petivit latro poenitens, and it always fills me with emotion: to ask like the penitent thief did!
He recognised that he himself deserved that awful punishment... And with a word he stole Christ 's heart and opened up for himself the gates of heaven.
5. From the Cross hangs Our Lord 's now lifeless body. The people, seeing what had been done, went home beating their breasts (Luke 23:48).
Now that you have repented, promise Jesus that, with his help, you will not crucify him again. Say it with faith. Repeat, over and over again: I will love you, my God, because ever since you were born, ever since you were a child, you abandoned yourself in my arms, defenceless, trusting in my loyalty.