Our Lord falls for the third time, on the slope leading up to Calvary, with only forty or fifty paces between him and the summit. Jesus can no longer stay on his feet: his strength has failed him, and he lies on the ground in utter exhaustion.
He offered himself up because it was his will; abused and ill-treated, he opened not his mouth, as a sheep led to the slaughter, dumb as a lamb before its shearers (Isai 53:7).
Everyone against Him... the people of the city and those from abroad, and the Pharisees and the soldiers and the chief priests... All of them executioners. His Mother my Mother weeps.
Jesus fulfils the will of his Father! Poor: naked. Generous: what is there left for him to surrender? Dilexit me, et tradidit semetipsum pro me (Gal 2:20), he loved me and delivered himself up unto death for me.
My God! may I hate sin, and unite myself to You, taking the Holy Cross into my arms, so that I, in my turn, may fulfil your most lovable Will.... stripped of every earthly attachment, with no other goal but your glory.... generously, not keeping anything back, offering myself with you in a perfect holocaust.
Points for meditation
1. By this stage Our Lord is unable to lift himself up: so burdensome is the weight of our wretchedness. Like a lifeless sack he is carried to the scaffold. Silent, he lets them have their way.
The humility of Jesus. God abasing himself so that we may be raised and exalted. Now do you understand why I advised you to lay your heart on the ground so that others may tread softly?
2. How hard it is to get as far as Calvary!
You too must conquer yourself so as not to abandon the way... This struggle is something marvellous, a real proof of the love of God, who wants us to be strong, because virtus in infirmitate perficitur (2 Cor 12:9), virtue is made strong in weakness.
Our Lord knows that, when we feel feeble, we come closer to Him, we pray better, we mortify ourselves more, we intensify our love for our neighbour. That way we grow in sanctity.
Thank God very much because he allows temptations... and because you keep fighting.
3. Do you want to accompany Jesus closely, very closely?... Open the Holy Gospel and read the Passion of Our Lord. But don 't just read it: live it. There is a big difference. To read is to recall something that happened in the past; to live is to find oneself present at an event that is happening here and now, to be someone taking part in those scenes.
Then, allow your heart to open wide; let it place itself next to Our Lord. And when you notice it trying to slip away when you see that you are a coward, like the others ask forgiveness for your cowardice and mine.
4. It looks as if the whole world is coming down on top of you. Whichever way you turn you find no way out. This time, it is impossible to overcome the difficulties.
But, have you again forgotten that God is your Father? all-powerful, infinitely wise, full of mercy. He would never send you anything that is evil. That thing that is worrying you, it 's good for you, even though those earthbound eyes of yours may not be able to see it now.
Omnia in bonum! Lord, once again and always, may your most wise Will be done!
5. Now you realize how much you have made Jesus suffer, and you are filled with sorrow. How easy it is to ask his pardon and weep for your past betrayals! Such is your longing for atonement that you cannot contain it in your breast!
Fine. But don 't forget that the spirit of penance consists mainly in the fulfilment of the duty of each moment, however costly it may be.