Our monthly devotion for the month of February is in honor of the Passion of Christ. This will help us to prepare for the liturgical season of Lent which begins on Ash Wednesday (February 10th). Christ the sinless Lamb of God has suffered the most brutal torments in order to save us from our sin, yet often we repay Him with infidelity and ingratitude. When we pause to remember all that Christ Himself suffered for us: His agony in the garden, trial before Pilate, carrying of the Cross, and most importantly His crucifixion and death on the Cross, it should lead to conversion in our lives.
During His agony in the garden, we see Christ imploring His Father to "let this chalice pass from me". As His passion looms before Him, He prays for this so fervently that He begins to sweat blood. Knowing what lies ahead, Christ begs for the Father's will to be accomplished despite His mortal anguish praying, "not my will but thine be done". All of us can learn much from this spirit of intense humble prayer, followed by complete surrender to the will of the Father.
In Christ's appearance before Pilate He is humble and silent. Pilate questions Him giving every opportunity for Him to defend Himself yet He does not. Instead He allows himself to be mocked, scourged, and crowned with thorns. Only when Pilate asks Him if he is the King of the Jews does he respond, "You say that I am". With us it is often very different. We take offense at the slightest opportunity, we are overly defensive and quick to anger. Christ teaches us the exercise of silent meekness in the face of injustices and injuries, and it is by developing this spirit that we come to salvation.
On the painful way of the Cross, Christ again serves as our example of love, perseverance, and silence. Three times He falls under the weight of the Cross, but each time He gets up and continues on His way. Despite His pain, weakness, and loss of blood He pushed forward. At last too weak to go on carrying the Cross, it is taken from Him yet even then,He went forward on His journey to Calvary. With Christ we must learn to persevere in doing the good, and rise with Him each time we fall. When we trust in Him, His grace will supply all we lack.
Finally in His Crucifixion and death Christ gives his soul back to the Father. In His final moments He cries, "Father into your hands I commend my spirit". He is not bitter, angry, or indignant, but simply accepts the will of His Father. After all He has suffered He dies simply, poorly, with one last prayer on his lips. Breathing forth His pure, holy spirit in reparation for our sins. There is no end to the lessons we can learn from Our Lord's example in these last moments. Every virtue shines forth in Him so perfectly that it makes up for all the sins that are in the world, have been, or will ever be. Truly, God has come to His people and set them free.
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