A Lenten Reflection for Thursday after the Second Sunday in Lent from Holy Cross Publications
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
Thursday after the Second Sunday in Lent.
On Our Lord in the House of Caiphas.
Behold Jesus arraigned before the chief council. Look, my soul, at the countenances of the men who arrogate to themselves the right to judge Him; deceitfulness and rage are written on every one of them; see with what cold contempt Caiphas treats the Saviour standing before him in dignified silence, conscious of His innocence, an Angel of light in the presence of the Spirit of darkness. When at last our Lord opens His lips and acknowledges Himself to be the Son of God, imagine the outburst of savage fury, the angry outcries of the whole assembly; see how Caiphas rends his garments and exclaims: “You have heard the blasphemy, what think you?” (St. Mark xiv. 64.)
1st. Consider the base deceit of our Lord’s enemies. They conceal their hatred and envy under the cloak of zeal for God’s glory. They stigmatize the pronouncement of divine truth as blasphemy, and proceed to pass sentence of death upon Jesus as if the honor of the Most High demanded it. They use God’s name to cover their crime. What unheard of impiety! Yet how often do we see this done; the enemies of our Lord have at all times decreed the destruction of the Church, condemned our Lord to death under the pretext of zeal for God and for the cause of religion. And if you are sincere with yourself, my soul, ask your heart if you have not many a time under the mask of anxiety for God’s glory, for the interests of the Church or of your Order, vented on your neighbor sentiments long concealed of anger and aversion. Ask yourself whether you have not been guilty of uncharitable judgments and detraction, making it appear all the time as if you were acting solely for the sake of truth. Not without good reason did the Psalmist say: Omnis homo mendax, “Every man is a liar” (Ps. cxv. 2); man lies to himself more frequently, more willingly than to any one else, deluding himself with the belief that he is doing for God what he is only doing to serve his own selfish ends.
2d. Consider how shamefully the servants, imitating their masters, treat our Lord. They lead Him away out of the judgment hall to the prison, and there they begin—the mere thought of it is too horrible—to spit in His face. How awful an outrage! Consider what God is and what man is, and you will indeed shudder at it. Man spits in the face of his God, he spits in that countenance whereon the angels gaze in reverential awe, on that countenance which the whole world will one day behold with trembling, when it is revealed in all its terrible majesty. What are you most horrified at, my soul, the treatment our Lord received at the hands of His judges, or at that of their minions?
3d. Consider that it is in the high priest’s house that our Lord is thus maltreated; there it is that He, the High Priest for ever, is so brutally used. Alas! how often Jesus suffers insults from the quarter where one would least expect it, in a house that is actually consecrated to His service! One is not surprised if our Lord is outraged and mishandled in the camp of His enemies, but if He is thus served in the house of His friends, in the sanctuary of God, in a community of Priests or Religious who are supposed to be devoted to the divine service, how doubly painful must this be to the Sacred Heart of Jesus! Now ask yourself seriously, my soul, how often you may perhaps yourself have in a spiritual sense spit in your Lord’s face; how often you have sullied your soul, made in the image of God, by grievous sin. believe me, mortal sin is far more abhorrent, disgusting in God’s sight than the filthy spittle of the high priest’s servants. Up then, my soul, cleanse your countenance—the image of God,—from this impurity.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.Z