Jesus Falls the Third Time under the Cross
“And I, once I have been lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” John 12:32
Three times Love falls to the ground under the blows of men, under the weight of the cross burdened with sins. But It does not remain down. It knows It will finally triumph over sin and ingratitude, that It “will draw all men to Itself” – but not before It is “lifted up from the earth.” Therefore It uses every effort to rise, until It has mounted Calvary, until It has sacrificed all, until It has shed the last drop of blood.
We like to complain when our love is not returned; we decry the lack of charity in our neighbor, instead of lamenting the lack of it in ourselves. We must love still more, give and sacrifice still more. We must mount still higher, until we have climbed Mount Calvary, until we too have been “lifted up.” Only when all self-love has died in us, when we have made a total surrender to the crucified Savior, only then will our love have that overpowering force which draws all men to itself.
Let us sacrifice all, then, for love!
Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments
“He emptied Himself.” Phil. 2:7
“If a man intends to rob you of your coat, let him have your cloak as well,” the Savior once said (Matt. 5:40). Now on Calvary, He gives not merely coat and cloak; in His love He allows Himself to be stripped naked. Love gives without calculating and measuring, gives what it can and does not ask whether anything remains.
How selfish I am, Lord, when I compare my love with Yours! Without mercy, take from me everything to which my heart is still attached, everything that I would not be prepared to sacrifice at any moment for You and for my neighbor. Take away all, until I am, like You, completely “emptied,” utterly poor, stripped naked in holy, selfless love!
Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
“Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
The Savior prays for His enemies while they are nailing Him to the cross. Could I do likewise? At the very moment when I am ridiculed, mocked, tormented, despised, crucified, can I pray for those who cause my suffering – really pray from the heart, just as the Savior prayed for His enemies?
The Savior’s prayer in this hour was not merely a pious wish, but a sacrifice of Himself for His executioners. It was not merely a prayer on the lips; it was self-immolation. Until I am able to pray and offer myself in this same spirit, I have not perfect love.
The Savior prays, “They do not know what they are doing.” Love “take no note of injury” (1 Cor. 13:5), judges no one, “is always ready to hope” (1 Cor. 13:7), never despairs of anyone, though he seem hopeless. How uncharitable is our judgment of others!
Lord, give me true love!
Jesus Dies on the Cross
“It is now completed.” John 19:30
The Savior has given all; naked and despoiled He hangs on the cross. And still His love looks for something more to give. Then He sees His mother, and He presents her also to us: “This is your mother” (John 19:27). Now he can cry out, “It is completed”; He has given all.
The triumph of Love can now begin. “Lifted up from the earth,” It can begin to “draw all men to Itself.” The centurion under the cross is the first fruit of this love; after that, the awe-stricken crowd, beating their breasts and repenting their sins; then the holy souls in Limbo; and finally the thousands and millions of souls that are saved by the redeeming “Love unto the end.”
Lord, give us this love, “love to the end,” that the world may be saved!
The Heart of Jesus Is Opened and He Is Taken Down from the Cross
“Love is not provoked.” 1 Cor. 13:5
Things like ingratitude, misunderstanding, suspicion and unkindness cause most men’s hearts to harden and close. But all these bitter things served only to open the Savior’s heart wider, so wide that the last drop of blood could flow from it as an offering of love.
As long as we experience rancor in our hearts at the injustice of men, we have not yet true love, for “love does not let itself be embittered.” Our heart must be like the Savior’s. Men pierced it, only to find revealed the riches of its love. They surrounded it with thorns, but could not extinguish its fire. They imposed a cross upon it, but the flames of its love blazed up above the cross.
O Jesus, make my heart like Yours, like the heart of Your mother, which was pierced with Yours and which, together with Yours, is a source of grace and love for us!
Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb
“Having loved His own… He loved them to the end.” John 13:1
Bright shines the legend over the Savior’s tomb: “He loved to the end.” “To the end” must our love go, to the end of our strength, to the end of our life. It must be like that of the pious Catherine Emmerich, who in a dream took her heart from her bosom and divided it among many people. “And when I had given away the last little piece,” she relates, “I felt empty, exhausted unto death.” Then Jesus appeared to her upon the cross. “Lord,” she said. “I have nothing left.” Thereupon He gave her His heart, saying, “Take My heart and share it.” And the moment He put His heart into her breast, she awoke and felt strong.
O Jesus, I would like to be like that! And thus should we all be, ready to share our heart and give away the last little piece of it, that we may become emptied of all self-seeking and filled with Your love.
Then above our grave too can be placed the inscription: “He loved to the end.” Our reward for this will be Your “love unto the end” in everlasting bliss. Amen, amen! So be it!
We have meditated on the Way of the Cross which the Savior’s love traveled for us. It is now our task to follow Him on this way. It is a difficult road, demanding many sacrifices, the “narrow path” of which the holy Scripture speaks. But this road leads to final happiness. It leads to love, which is the greatest thing of all (1 Cor. 13:13). It leads to perfect union with God and men, to blessed oneness in Christ (John 17:21ff.)
“Take courage, then, brethren, let us go forward together and Jesus will be with us. For Jesus’ sake we have taken this cross. For Jesus’ sake let us persevere with it. He will be our help as He is also our leader and guide. Behold, our King goes before us and will fight for us. Let us follow like men. Let no man fear any terrors. Let us be prepared to meet death valiantly in battle. Let us not suffer our glory to be blemished by fleeing from the Cross” (Imitation of Christ 3:56).
Why should we fear death? “He who does not love abides in death,” but “we know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers” (1 John 3:14).