Friday, May 18, 2007

The Piercing of the Side of Jesus and His Descent from the Cross III

“My beloved was white and ruddy” (Canticle 5:10)

After our Lord’s side was pierced by the soldier’s lance, our Lady begged Joseph of Arimathea to obtain Pilate’s permission to remove His body, fearing He may be abused further. Joseph explained Mary’s wishes to Pilate and this permission was granted. According to St. Anselm, Pilate’s stone heart was softened with pity for the Mother of Jesus and, “so moved him to grant the request.”

Jesus was thus taken down from His cross. “Oh how many swords,” says St. Bonaventure, “pierced that poor mother’s soul” when she took the dead Jesus into her arms. She who held him in the stable, all pink, warm, beautiful and full of life…now she holds Him again, dead, beaten, broken and cold. We can imagine, perhaps as we pray the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary, our Blessed Mother, standing there arms outstretched in order to receive Him.

The scene is best related to us by St. Alphonsus Ligouri, quoting one Bernardine de Bustis: “She embraced Him and then sat down at the foot of the cross. His mouth was open, his eyes were dim. She examined His mangled flesh and his exposed bones. She took off the crown and gazed at the wounds the thorns had made in His brow. She saw the gaping holes in His hands and feet. Then she said to him: “O my Jesus, your love for men has brought You to this. What harm did you ever do them that they should treat you so cruelly? You were my father, my brother, my spouse, my delight, my glory. You were everything to me! O my dear Son, see how desolate I am! Look at me and comfort me. But you can no longer look at me. Say only one word and comfort me. But you cannot speak any more, for you are dead. O cruel thorns, O cruel nails, O merciless spear, how could you possibly torture your Creator? But why do I speak of thorns and nails? It is you, O sinners, who have treated my Son so cruelly!”

O most Holy Virgin, now that you have given your Son to the world with such great love and for our salvation, behold, the world now give Him back to you. But, O God, what a condition He is in! My beloved was white and ruddy (Cant 5:10), Mary says to the world, but you return Him to me blackened with bruises and red from His wounds you inflicted on him. He was beautiful, but now He is no longer beautiful, but all disfigured. His appearance used to make people happy, but now he excites only horror in those who look upon Him. O Mary, Mother most sorrowful, please accept our prayers, offered to compassionate thy sufferings and weepings…be comforted in some small way by our prayers and help us to grow in holiness so we may not longer inflict wounds on your Son. Amen+
(Source: The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus de Ligouri)

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