“…I knew God by His pain!
And by that sight
I saw the light;
Thus did my grief
For Him beget relief…
So learn this rule from me:
Pity thou Him and He will pity thee!”
It is the agonizing privilege of every Sister Teacher and Sister Catechist, explaining to wide-eyed innocents for the first time about the dolorous passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to regard with fresh unction the painful realities of the sorrowful mysteries:
It is this tenderness which draws from the lips of our children desires to alleviate Our Lord’s suffering. It is this same tenderness which we see enacted by many characters of the Passion, amidst the violent cruelty inflicted upon Our Jesus: Claudia, who intercedes for Him, the women of Jerusalem who weep for Him; His faithful ones (most especially His Sorrowful Mother) at the foot of the Cross. All these come readily to our minds. But there are others who show Our Lord compassion in his suffering: the Good Thief, St. Dismas, who defended the innocence of Our Lord while Gesmas blasphemed and mocked Him (in whose redeemed voice the opening poem of this reflection was written). Not only St. Dismas but also, often forgotten, the nameless soldier who, when Our Lord cried out His thirst, ran to sate it by offering Him the wine of poor quality—so poor it could be called vinegar—which was his only ration.
"The Gospel says he went running to do this work of mercy… If…this rude soldier ever came to understand the truth concerning Jesus—ah, how he must have cherished ever afterward the memory of this moment! But even if Christ did not reveal His divinity to this young pagan, surely Christ never forgot the mercy done His humanity by the young soldier who offered a share of the best he had as a courtesy which Jesus accepted as such."
So may we let ourselves be drawn by chains of tenderness to Cross and bound by chains of love to remain there. May meditating upon the human suffering of Christ draw us further to regard the awesome divinity hidden beneath the Man of Sorrows. Most importantly, let us not forget that Christ reigns, triumphant from the Cross: triumphant over the pride and disobedience which led our first parents to fall; triumphant in love of us and love of the Father over the natural human love of one’s own life. Mourn with Him awhile, but not without the candle of our share in Our Lady’s faith gleaming in our hearts, which waits with firm expectation for the Tree of Life to resurrect from this seed of Christ, which has fallen to the ground, and died.
Poem and quote both taken from Cardinal John J. Wright’s “Words in Pain” (Catholic Institute of Pittsburgh Inc., 1986) published by Ignatius Press.