" The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all " (Is. liii. 6).

IT belongs to God alone to speak to us of His greatness ; and to Him alone it belongs to tell us of His abasement. We can never have conceptions lofty enough to enable us to speak rightly of the Divine greatness ; and as regards His humiliation, we could never dare to entertain thoughts so low as fitly to express its fathomless depth. In both cases alike, God and God alone must mark out the boundary line beyond which human thought and human speech dare not venture. Now therefore when I am considering and bringing before your consideration the thought of our Divine Lord charged with and convicted of more crimes than were ever imputed to the blackest criminal in this world’s history, be sure that I shall keep most rigidly within that boundary line marked out by the hand of the Eternal Father. The Prophet Isaiah himself, speaking of the Saviour, says : And we have thought Him as it were a leper (Is. liii. 4) ; that is, not only as a man scarred with innumerable wounds and sores, but as one literally clothed as with a garment in those hideous sins of which leprosy was the type. holy and Divine Leper ! O most just and innocent One bowed down under the shameful burden of the sins of the whole world ! as I look upon Thee thus oppressed and humiliated, I will never for one instant forget that only by bearing the punishment due to those sins couldst Thou be quit of their awful weight of ignominy.

And it was upon you, O saving Cross, once the tree of shame but now the object of a world s adoration, it was upon you that the Divine Saviour paid, to the very last farthing, that stupendous debt ! You bore the price of our Salvation, you are the Tree of Life yielding for us the fruit of immortality ! O holy Cross, venerated by the whole Church of God, help me to imprint your image upon every heart ; and that I may the better set forth the humiliations of Jesus, let me bow down in adoration of His self-abasement, crying out : Hail, holy Cross

There is one thought on which we will only dwell for a moment, and even for that space of time simply because of its bearing on the condition of our suffering and dying Lord hanging upon that Cross of shame and laden with the iniquity of us all. That thought is, that the first punishment of a sinner is that of being delivered over to himself ; and assuredly it is a most just punishment. Sin, says St. Augustine, brings with it its own penalty ; whoever commits a crime is the first to punish himself for it, witness that worm which never dies, the gnawing remorse, the restless disquietude of a troubled conscience. All that proves to us clearly enough that the sinner is himself his own punishment ; and if we do not experience this punishment in our present life, God will most certainly make us do so, fully and terribly, in the life to come.

Now let us turn from generalities to the one absorbing thought of our suffering Saviour. The moment having at last come when He was to appear as a criminal before His judges and before the assembled multitude of His enemies, the Eternal Father begins to make Him feel the weight, the crushing burden of sin, by the punishment which He actually inflicts upon Himself. Hitherto, all through the course of His earthly life, He has spoken of His passion with joy. He has longed with an ardent longing for that supreme hour which He calls His own (John xiii. i), as the completion of His mission, as the crowning act of that most Divine Life. But that serene peace, that tranquil calmness of spirit is not to last ; in the secret, eternal dispensation of Providence it is decreed that the Saviour of the world shall go forth to meet death with fear and trembling, because He is to go to meet it as a criminal, because He is to afflict and to trouble Him self. This is why the Divine Sufferer, feeling His hour approaching, says sorrowfully : Now is My soul troubled (John xii. 27). Not till this moment, He would seem to say, has My soul ever been overshadowed by even the faintest cloud of trouble, but now that I must appear as a criminal, it is only fitting and right that it should be thus overshadowed and darkened ; and so indeed it was. Over that Divine soul swept the storm of four disturbing passions of weariness, fear, sadness, and languor : He began to be heavy and to fear, and to be sorrowful and sad (Matt. xxvi. 37 ; Mark xiv. 33).

Let us try to analyze or define these conditions of the soul, which oppressed the Saviour of the world as He passed along the way to the Garden of Agony. Weariness, or heaviness of spirit, makes life appear almost intolerable ; every moment of it is a burden of which we would fain rid ourselves. Fear shakes the soul to its very foundations, threatening it with a thousand possible evils and disasters ; sadness wraps it in a sombre cloud, the very shadow of death in its gloom and obscurity ; and, last of all, languor overwhelms it with a strange faintness and failure of all its natural forces, which is almost like death itself. These, then, were the conditions which drew from the lips of our Divine Lord that sorrowful assertion, Now is My soul troubled ; this is the beginning of the punishment which He bore for us. Yes, but the beginning only ; and before entering further into the consideration of that terrible agony, we must, if we would realize its full intensity, at once and for ever disabuse our minds of that error (into which some of our minds fall) of imagining that the immovable constancy of the Son of God, supported by Divine power, prevented His soul from being violently agitated by those passions of which we have been speaking and which, seeing that He was not only perfect God but also perfect man, were incidental to His human nature.

Holy Scripture, when speaking of sorrow and suffer ing, makes use of a metaphor which throws some light upon this objection often erroneously advanced. The inspired writers compare sorrow to a troubled sea which cannot rest ; and assuredly grief has its bitter waters which sometimes flood the stricken soul ; it has its impetuous waves which threaten to overwhelm it, and often when we think it has grown calmer it is only a temporary lull before a fresh outburst of fury. The Prophet, indeed, actually makes use of this comparison, when speaking of the Passion of the Son of God : Great, he says, is Thy sorrow as an ocean (Lam. ii. 13).

Since, then, His sorrow is like a sea, it was assuredly in His power to restrain that sorrow, as we read in the Gospel that He restrained the fury of the tempest on the Sea of Galilee. Then He quelled the wind and waters with a word, and there was made a great calm (Mark iv. 39). But at other times He exercised His Divine power in a yet more glorious and majestic manner ; giving rein to the tempests and suffering the winds to lash the waves into fury, while He, calm and serene in the dignity of His Godhead, walked upon the waters, treading the angry waves under His feet. Even so did Jesus in His Passion deal with sorrow. He might have commanded its waves and they would have been still ; He might with a single word have calmed the tempest which was troubling His soul, but it was not His will so to do. He, Who is the Eternal Wisdom and Who disposes and does all things at the appointed time, seeing that the hour of suffering had come, opened the flood-gates and let the torrent pour in upon His soul in full force. It is true that He walked upon the troubled sea calm and unmoved, but still it remained a troubled sea ; its swelling waves surged over His most sensitive spirit, weighing it down with heaviness, tossing it to and fro with fear, overwhelming it with sadness. Never for an instant imagine that the constancy which we adore in the Son of God, minimized one into of His sufferings ; He did indeed surmount them all, but He none the less felt them all. He drained the chalice of His Passion to the very dregs, not leaving one single drop in its depths ; and not only did He drink the potion, but He did so slowly, tasting its full bitterness as drop by drop it wetted His sacred lips. Hence the heaviness, the fear, the dejection, the languor which so overwhelmed Him as to force from Him those words of lamentation spoken to His Apostles: My soul is sorrowful, even unto death ; stay you here and watch with Me (Matt. xxvi. 38).

Ah, we know too well what it was that thus oppressed and weighed down the soul of our Divine Saviour ! It was the burden of our sins and of the sins of the whole world. Yes, putting aside all philosophic reasoning, all studied language and tricks of oratory, let us calmly and seriously fix our attention on the wonderful picture offered to our mental vision by the Prophet : All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isa. liii. 6).

See this Divine Saviour on Whom suddenly are heaped the sins of the whole world, all the treacheries and perfidies, all the impurities and adulteries, all the impieties and sacrileges, all the curses and blasphemies, in a word, all the deadly horrors of which our depraved nature is capable. Ah ! what a terrible accumulation, what a very avalanche of loathsomeness descending upon the spotless soul of Jesus ! The torrents of iniquity have troubled Me (Ps. xvii. 5). Yes, they have indeed troubled Him. Prostrate even in the dust, groaning beneath this shameful burden, not even daring to look up to Heaven, so bowed down to the earth is that Sacred Head with the grievous weight of our sins which He has truly made His own.

Sinner, hardened in pride and obstinacy, look upon Jesus bowed down and prostrate in the dust because you lift your haughty head to the stars ; see Him weighed down by the heavy burden of sin because you make so light of it and because you shake off the yoke of discipline ; see Him in His Agony, and remember that because you take pleasure in sin He must endure that agony caused by sin. To understand this better, it would be well to remind ourselves that every sin involves shame and sorrow shame because of undue and unreasonable self-exaltation, and sorrow because of delight taken in what ought to have yielded no gratification. Jesus, All-holy and Divine, in taking our sins upon Himself must of necessity experience these emotions in their most vehement intensity ; hence His Agony.

Shame first covers His sacred face, then bows Him down to the earth ; but, what is more marvelous still, shame makes Him tremble before His Eternal Father. He no longer speaks to Him with the loving familiarity, the unwavering confidence of an only Son relying absolutely upon the unfailing goodness of His Father. Father ! if it be possible I But is there anything that is impossible with God ? Yes, Father, all things are possible to Thee, if it is Thy will that they should be done. Thou wilt ; and can it be that Thou shouldst not will what a Son so beloved asks of Thee ? Listen to the actual words which then fall from those Divine lips : My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt (Matt. xxvi. 39). O Jesus, Divine Lord and Master, can this be the language of a well-beloved Son ? Only a little while ago Thou saidst with such calm confidence: Father, all that is Mine is Thine, and Thine is Mine (John xvii. 10) ; and at another time, beginning Thy prayer with an act of thanksgiving, Thou saidst : Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me, and I knew that thou hearest Me always (John xi. 41-42). Why, dear Lord, dost Thou now speak so differently ? Why do I now hear these sorrowful words : Not My Will but Thine ? Since when has this opposition between the will of the Father and that of the Son begun to operate ?

Ah ! can you not see that the Divine Son is trembling beneath the burden of the sins of men ? The shame of those offenses with which He is laden, contends with that happy filial liberty which once was His. What sad constraint for the Son of God ! And being in an agony He prayed the longer. There was a time when a single short sentence was sufficient to carry all before it ; He had but to say : Father, I will it (John xvii. 24). There was a time when He could speak thus boldly ; but now that the personality of the Only-Begotten Son is veiled and cloaked by the sinner s garments, He no longer dares to use such freedom. He prays, but He prays with trembling ; and, praying a long time, He drinks in long deep draughts of the shame of a long refusal. Speak no more, Divine substitute for sinners ; nothing but death remains for Thee.

The second cause of the Agony of Jesus was sorrow for the sins with which He was laden ; a sorrow so deadly and so crushing that no human imagination can picture it. We, miserable and lethargic sinners as we are, do not and cannot feel the full bitterness of sin. If you would form some faint idea of it, see the flood of bitter tears which Peter shed for one single sin of unfaithfulness. But our Divine Lord, like the scape goat sent out into the wilderness, bore on His sacred shoulders not only the sin of Peter, but also that of the traitor Judas, of the cowardly Pilate, nay, even of the furious rabble who became guilty of deicide as they cried out : Let Him be crucified ! (Matt, xxvii. 23). O Jesus ! laden with the sins of the whole world, were Your tears as a limitless ocean, they could not be in just proportion to the measureless infinity of those sins.

Sorrow of heart now comes to swell this torrent of bitterness, and to make it truly incalculable. Jesus grieves for all our sins as though He had committed them Himself, because in His Father s sight He is indeed laden with them all. There is not one of those sins that has not its own special and peculiar malice. He sorrows over them as much as they deserve to be sorrowed over ; because He must pay the price of all, and in that price sorrow has its part, sorrow which must bring with it no sort of consolation, for consolation would have subtracted something from the amount of that debt which must be paid in full. And what a debt ! What an overwhelming burden ! David in his distress cried out : My sins encompass me on every side, they are more in number than the hairs of my head, my heart has failed me (Ps. xxxvii). Ah ! Sacred Heart of Jesus, weighed down by the multitude of our sins, what shall we say of Thee ? Divine Heart, sorrowful even unto death, how canst Thou find room even in Thy fathomless depths for the countless miseries which pierce and rack Thee ?

Yes, it is not for a moment to be doubted that the sorrows of Jesus were in themselves sufficiently poignant and numerous to have at any moment stopped the beating of that Sacred Heart. He Himself has told us : My soul is sorrowful even unto death (Matt. xxvi. 38) ; and in order to convince us more certainly of the fact, He gives a token, the marvelous sweat of blood pouring in crimson drops from head to foot as He prayed in the Garden of the Agony. I care not to try and find any natural cause for this sweat of blood. It was Divine, miraculous, supernatural, but the Son of God permitted it to occur in order to convince us that the suffering caused to Him by our sins was of itself sufficient to draw from His sacred veins such a torrent of blood as was copious enough to have exhausted all His physical forces and snapped asunder those bonds which keep the soul imprisoned in the body. He would then assuredly have died in the throes of this supreme agony, had not Divine power sustained Him in it, reserving Him for future developments of that suffering which while death was still delayed reached its climax on the Cross of Calvary.

And what then was this agony, so infinitely different to any which ordinary mortals ever undergo ? In their case the soul which clings to the body and would fain not to be separated from it, is torn from its poor fleshly tenement by violence ; whereas the soul of our Divine Lord, on the very point of quitting its prison, ready to take flight as a caged bird when its door is set open, is restrained from so doing by Divine authority. In the dying the soul clings with passionate struggles and strivings to the flesh which it loves and cannot bear to abandon ; death having already made itself master of the outworks of the citadel the soul retreats into its inner courts, and finally entrenches itself in the secret recesses of the poor palpitating heart ; there for a while it holds its own, resisting, baffling, but only on the defence, till the enemy at last triumphs, and drives it from even that final refuge, dealing at the same time the death-blow. Not so with our Divine Saviour. When all the physical forces of His Sacred Humanity are disordered, enfeebled, almost annihilated by the outpouring of the Precious Blood in the Garden of the Agony, the soul, ready to take flight, is arrested, held captive, still detained in her prison house, by that supreme command which cannot be resisted or disobeyed. Ah ! my beloved Jesus, sorrow ful indeed even unto death, still live on a little longer, live on to bear the other torments which await Thee ! The Jews with the traitor Judas at their head are close at hand, there must be something left for them to do. It is enough, dear Lord, that Thou hast shown sinners that sin of itself would have had power sufficient to deprive Thee of life.

Sinner, would you have believed it possible that your sin could have had such tremendous, such fatal power ? Had we only seen Jesus exhausted, fainting, dying in the hands of His executioners, we should always have believed that His death was the result of the tortures inflicted upon Him by those barbarians. But now, seeing Him prostrate, bleeding, agonized in the Garden of Olives, with nothing but the burden of our sins to overwhelm Him thus, with no other tormentors, no other tortures near Him, now, now indeed we know ourselves to be the Deicides, now we must weep and groan and beat our breasts, and tremble as accusing conscience brings this awful truth home to our hearts. And well indeed may we tremble, having within ourselves, deep down in the recesses of our own hearts, so certain a cause of death. Sin was sufficient in itself to bring about the death of a God ; and how is it, then, that we poor mortals, having this poison always lurking in our vitals, yet live on ? Ah ! we only do so by a miracle. The same Divine power which miraculously retained the soul of the Saviour within the prison of His mortal body works a like marvel for ours, but with this difference : it preserves our life in order to spare us such torments, but in our Divine Lord it does this only that He may undergo fresh suffering, a new and keener agony, as we shall presently see.

It is written in the Book of Wisdom (Wis. v. 21) that all creatures shall rise up in arms to do battle with God against His enemies ; and this is the second scourge with which He threatens sinners. Our Divine substitute, holy, merciful, and loving, has already borne the first portion of the sentence, that of self-inflicted agony ; now He has reached the second stage of the vengeance of the Eternal Father, and almost all creatures are about to unite in subjecting the Victim to every kind of insult and torment. I do not of course mean that every individual creature was made an instrument in carrying out the terrible punishment inflicted upon Jesus Christ, because it was due to our sins which He had taken upon Himself. No, I am only putting before you the fact that our Divine Lord in His agony was abandoned to every sort of insult, outrage, torture that it would have been in the power of the vilest and most miserable living creature to inflict upon Him.

In order to gain a clear idea of this second part of the punishment which was a source of infinite pain, we must before all things remember one certain truth. Seeing it to be just that the sinner when separated from God (Who is his strength and his support) should fall into the utmost extremity of weakness, our Lord, as soon as He in His infinite mercy had put Himself in the place of all who ever had sinned, or ever would sin, voluntarily suspended and as it were withdrew into Himself the employment of His Divine power. This is why, when the Jews drew near to seize Him, He spoke these memorable words : Are you come out against Me as a thief ? When I was daily with you in the Temple you did not stretch out your hands against Me ; but this is your hour and the power of darkness (Luke xxii. 52-53).

Speaking thus, He would have them understand that they had no power to arrest Him in the days when He taught and ministered and worked miracles among them, because then He was exerting His own Divine power ; but that now, when that power was no longer asserting itself, the opposing forces that were brought to bear upon His Sacred Humanity by the hatred and malice of His enemies, had nothing to restrain, nothing to limit them. Now is your hour and the power of dark ness. This marvelous suspension of the power of the Son of God did not restrict itself to the restraint and self-imposed truce to all His extraordinary and Divine power, it even included the suspension of some of His human and merely natural forces, as you shall see.

If a man finds himself unable to resist violence, he can sometimes save himself by flight ; if he cannot avoid being taken prisoner, he can at least defend him self when he is accused ; or if he is deprived of that liberty, he can always find some relief in his distress by vehement complaints of the injustice with which he is being treated, and by groans and lamentations over his sufferings. Not so in the case of our Divine Lord. Of His own will He put away all these powers ; in the Son of God they were all fettered, even His very tongue was tied. When they accuse Him, He answers not ; when they strike Him, He murmurs not, not even the faintest groan or sigh such as the weak and oppressed utter in the hope of stirring some pity in the hearts of their tormentors. He opens not His mouth (Isa. liii. 7). Nay more, He does not even turn away His head from the cruel blows which are rained upon it ; He remains motionless, not making an effort to elude one single blow.

What then is He doing in His Passion ? The Scriptures tell us in a few words : He delivered Himself to him that judged Him unjustly (i Peter ii. 23) ; and what is here said of our Divine Lord s judge is to be understood consequently as regards all who in those terrible hours took upon themselves the task of insult ing and torturing Him. He delivered Himself up. Yes, He gives Himself up to them, that they may do what they will with Him. They wish to kiss Him, He gives them His sacred lips ; to bind Him, He holds out His hands to them ; to buffet Him, He turns His cheek to them ; to strike Him with their staves and to scourge Him, He offers His back and His shoulders to the cruel blows. They accuse Him before Caiphas and Pilate, He stands humbly before them as one convicted of guilt. Herod and all his court mock and deride Him, sending Him to and fro as a fool ; He is silent, seeming thus to own the justice of their accusations. They abandon Him to the mercy of the servants and the soldiers, and He even more absolutely abandons Him self to their pitiless outrages. That adorable Face, once so majestic and Divine that Heaven and earth were rapt in ecstasy as they beheld it, that Face Jesus Himself offers with calm unmoved dignity to the spittle of the vile rabble. They pluck out His hair, He says not a word ; as a sheep before its shearers the Son of God is dumb. The insolent soldiery press round Him, urging one another to fresh acts of cruelty. " He calls himself the King of the Jews," they cry out ; " then he must have a crown," and they put upon His sacred head a crown of thorns, driving in the thorns roughly with blows to make it fit more tightly ; He receives it all meekly. " See," they cry, " Herod has clothed him in white like a fool ; bring that old scarlet mantle and put it round his shoulders, so as to make a contrast of colours. Give us your hand, King of the Jews ; here is a reed for a sceptre, make what use of it you please." Ah ! but it is no longer a jest. Now comes something real ; the sentence of death is pronounced. Stretch forth Thy hands again ; the nails are ready to fasten them to the Cross. Come, Jews and Romans, great and small, soldiers and citizens, rally your forces, heap blow upon blow, insult upon insult, wound upon wound, indignity upon indignity. Even when He hangs upon the Cross, make a mockery of His misery, ridicule Him as though He were a fool ; wreak your fury upon Him as though He were a criminal ; He delivers Himself up to you, He is ready to suffer all, all that your cruel malice, your inhuman ingenuity of mockery, may bring to bear upon Him.

Well, have you, Christians, considered this appalling picture, this terrible mass of sufferings, sufferings beyond thought or imagination, which 1 have brought together before your eyes ; and has it no power to move you ? Do I not see one tear ? Do I not hear one sob ? Are you waiting for me to detail to you more in particular the varied circumstances of this stupendous tragedy ? Must I bring before you one by one all the actors who played their part on that stage of infamy ? Judas, who gives Him the traitor s kiss ; Peter, who denies Him ; Malchus, who strikes Him ; the false witnesses, who calumniate Him ; the priests, who blaspheme His name ; the judge, who acknowledges and yet condemns His innocence ? Must I depict to you the Sacred Victim groaning under that hailstorm of blows and scourging, fainting under the burden of His Cross, under the pressure of the thorns that pierce His brow, under the tortures that the executioners inflict upon His whole body ? But the day would close in before I had even got half through the frightful details. It is enough ; let us pass on to serious meditation upon this tremendous subject.

Look upon that Face once so beautiful, now so marred, so piteous in its disfigurement. This is indeed a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. Behold the man ! (John xix. 5), so Pilate speaks as he offers Him to the public gaze, to the public derision, on the heights of the Pretorium. But is this indeed a man ? O Jesus ! who could recognize Thee thus brought low, thus changed in form and feature by the cruel chastisement which our sins, our own sins, have inflicted upon Thee ? Can this indeed be the Man promised to us from all eternity ? the Man Whom the Prophet, speaking to God the Father, calls the Man of Thy right hand ? Yes, there is no room here for doubt or questioning ; this is of a truth the Man needed by us to atone for our iniquities ; only a Man so disfigured in form and feature could restore in us the image of God which our sins had effaced ; only this Man so covered with wounds could heal the deep wounds of our guilty souls : He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for our sins ; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His bruises we are healed (Isa. liii. 5).

O Sacred Wounds, I adore you ! O Glorious Scars, I kiss you ! O Precious Blood, flowing from the thorn-pierced brow, from the tortured eyes, from the mangled body, let me gather up drop by drop the healing, life-giving stream ! Earth, do not drink up this Precious Blood ! Job says : earth, cover thou not my blood (Job xvi. 19). The blood of Job mattered not. But the Blood of Jesus, shed for a world s ransom ! " Earth," again I say, " drink not this Blood of Jesus ; every precious drop of it belongs to us, and must fall upon our sinful souls." I hear the frantic cry of the Jews : His Blood be upon us and upon our children (Matt. xxvii. 25). Yes, accursed race, it shall be, and it will be ; your desire, your request, will only be too fully granted ; this Blood will be upon you, for your condemnation, to the end of time, till the Lord, wearying at last of His vengeance, may deign to take pity on your scattered remnant. Oh ! may the Blood of Jesus never be upon us in that way ! May it never cry for vengeance on our hard-heartedness, our obstinacy, our impenitence ! May it be upon us only for our sanctification and salvation ! Let me wash my soul in this most Precious Blood ! let me be dyed with it from head to foot ! let its deep crimson, like a robe, hide my sins from the eyes of a Just Judge, Divine, All-holy, in Whose sight the very heavens are not pure.

But not yet may we plunge into that healing bath ; the Blood of our Divine Redeemer must flow in still more copious streams. Come with me to the foot of the Cross ; there we can indeed plunge into a stream of His Blood, for that Precious Blood is there like a river overflowing its channel and soon to dry up its source ! Come to the Cross ; Jesus has carried it upon His shoulders, and now the executioners are about to fasten Him to it. It is here that my soul is stirred to its very depths, as I contemplate my Divine Saviour bearing on His own sacred shoulders the shameful instrument of His death. This, more than all the other indignities which we have seen heaped upon Him, overwhelms me with grief and indignant horror, because this it is which most strongly makes the Holy One, the Spotless Victim, appear in the guise of a sinner. To be fastened to the cross is to suffer the punishment of an ordinary criminal, but to carry that cross oneself is to make public confession that one deserves to die upon that tree of shame. Therefore it was that when this last indignity was added to the malefactor s penalty, it was regarded as a sort of confession of the justice of his sentence and as a public avowal of his crime.

O Jesus ! innocent Jesus ! must Thou confess Thy self deserving of this extremest penalty ? Yes, so it must be. Men impute to our Divine Redeemer sins which He has indeed never committed ; but God has laid upon Him our iniquities, and now He is about to make for them that reparation which honour and justice demand, in the face of heaven and earth. As soon therefore as He beholds the Cross to which He is to be fastened, He salutes it thus : " Come, Cross of vShame, that I may embrace you ! It is just and fitting that I should carry you, since it is My due. O holy Father, it is My due, not because of the sins which the Jews impute to Me, but because of those which Thou hast laid upon Me." Then gathering together all His failing forces, so that He may be able to carry this heavy Cross along the Way of Sorrows and up the Hill of Calvary, Jesus meekly takes it upon His shoulders, and in so doing takes upon Himself as it were afresh the sins of the whole world in order that He may pay their penalty upon that tree of shame.

Is there yet any crime left of which Jesus has not been accused ? If so, bring it now ; not a single one must be left out. Ah ! but it is all done ; the tremendous burden has been all heaped up, it is complete. Then let us all draw near, weeping, trembling, on our knees, and let each one of us acknowledge to his own guilty heart his own individual share in that awful piled-up burden under which Jesus Christ is bending. Alas ! it is our disobedience, our sins, our ingratitude that weigh Him down ! Alas ! and wretched man that I am, my sins increase His load ! My sins and yours, all, all are adding to its weight. But let us not forget that the sins which make the burden almost insupportable to our Divine Saviour are those for which we have never done penance.

In this great Sacrifice it was essential that all should be Divine. It was essential that a satisfaction worthy of God should be offered, and that a God should Him self offer it ; that vengeance worthy of God should be executed, and again that God Himself should execute it.

Our Divine Lord is fastened to the shameful Tree, and the cruel nails are piercing His sacred hands and feet ; there is nothing to support the weight of His mangled and dislocated body but those hands already so terribly wounded by the nails, and now that weight is dragging the wounds open, wider and deeper. Loss of blood and anguish of spirit has parched His sacred tongue and dried up His very vitals, yet only vinegar and gall are offered to Him to quench that consuming thirst. In the midst of those unspeakable torments He sees round about the Cross and stretching into the far distance a vast crowd of spectators mocking His anguish, wagging their heads, cursing and deriding. On either side of Him are crucified two thieves ; one of whom, frantic with despair, dies blaspheming Him. Ah ! but all that agony which we have been trying to realize and to lay to heart, was but a preliminary to that supremest suffering which this Divine Victim, this Scapegoat for all sinners, was to endure upon the Cross, and which must needs come to Him from a power greater than that of any mere creature. Indeed, it belongs to God alone to avenge insults offered to Himself ; and as long as He takes no part in the punishment inflicted upon a sinner, that punishment is, comparatively speaking, but a light one. To Him alone it belongs to execute upon sinners that sentence which is their due, and His arm alone is mighty enough to deal with them according to their deserts. Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (Rom. xii. 19), says the Eternal God ; and therefore it was that having laid upon His own Beloved Son all our sins, He must needs launch upon His devoted head all the thunderbolts of His wrath, the righteous vengeance due to those sins. Not content with delivering Him up to the will of His enemies, the Eternal Father Himself was pleased to bruise Him in His infirmity (Isa. liii. 10). It was the will and pleasure of the Most High thus to bruise Him, it was a punishment planned in the Divine counsels from all Eternity. Can men or angels conceive any thing more terrible ?

St. Paul gives us some idea, and an appalling one, of the nature of this punishment. Putting before us on the one hand all the tremendous curses which the Law of God justly pronounces upon sinners, and, on the other, showing to the eye of faith Jesus Christ crucified in their stead, Jesus Christ become sin for us, St. Paul does not hesitate to tell us that Jesus Christ was made a curse for us (Gal. iii. 13). For it is written in the Law, and the declaration conies from God Himself, that he is accursed of God that hangeth on a tree (Deut. xxi. 23). And St. Paul tells us that this saying was prophetic and related principally to the Son of God, to Whom, as being the end of the Law, he does not hesitate to apply it. Here, then, behold Him accursed of God ! Should we have dared to say this, nay, even to think it, had not the Holy Ghost Himself taught us to believe it ? Since, then, the doctrine comes to us from so Divine a source, let us try to understand it as far as our limited faculties will permit.

I learn from the teaching of Holy Scripture that God s curse upon sinners, in the first place, wraps them about and clings to them like a noisome raiment : He put on cursing like a garment (Ps. cviii. 18) ; then that it penetrates deeper and deeper into their very being and substance : entering like water into his entrails and like oil into his bones (Ps. cviii). O Jesus Christ my Saviour ! can it be that Thou art reduced to such a state as this ? Yes, so it is ; for the curse of God has encompassed Him without and within. His Eternal Father Who hitherto, throughout the course of that Divine Son s life upon earth, had delighted in giving Him proofs of His love, leaves Him helpless, without any token of protecting tenderness ; it is as though He said to His enemies : Do with Him what you will, I abandon Him. O Eternal Father ! but this is the moment when most of all He needs Thy succour ; listen to His appeal : Do Thou deliver Me, for I am poor and needy, and My heart is troubled within Me (Ps. cviii. 22). The Jews are crying out to Him that if He will come down from the Cross they will believe in Him (Matt, xxvii. 42). Now surely is the moment when the heavens should open, now is the time when from out their glorious heights a Voice Divine should thrill our hearts with the proclamation, This is My Beloved Son I (Matt. xvii. 5). But no, the heavens are as brass above Him ; no miracle attests the hidden Divinity of this adorable Victim ; on the contrary, so absolutely is the protection of God the Father with drawn from Him, that the very devils, conscious of this abandonment so awful and complete, come troop ing round the Cross, that they may make Jesus the sport of their malice and their fury. For we read in the holy Gospels that when the devils had finished their temptation in the wilderness, they departed from Him for a time (Luke iv. 13), or until another time ; and this other time the Fathers interpret to be the time of His Passion, which was indeed their time. What then must have been the fury of their malice now in this hour which belonged to the powers of darkness ; since even in the wilderness, at a time when opposing forces controlled their efforts, they yet were able to stir the soul of the sinless One so terribly ?

But the curse of God reaches further than any mere attack from without ; it penetrates into the very depths of the soul, and strikes at the root of our Divine Lord s physical and mental powers. The Scriptures tell us that God has a countenance for the just and a countenance for sinners. The countenance which He has for the just is tranquil and serene, dispelling all clouds and shadows, calming the troubles of conscience and filling it with holy joy (Ps. xxi.). My Crucified Jesus ! once, yes, once in the days that are past, this countenance in all its radiant beauty was turned upon Thee, but now all is changed. Now the countenance which God turns upon sinners, that countenance of which it is written that it is against them that do evil (Ps. xxxiii. 17), is turned upon Thee, and it is the countenance of justice. God shows to His beloved Son this countenance, He turns upon Him a glance not of that gentle serenity which calms the troubled spirit, but rather of that wrath so dreadful that, like a flaming fire at which coals are kindled, it strikes terror into every guilty conscience. Yes, He looks upon His Divine Son as a sinner, and goes forth to meet Him as a Judge confronting a criminal. " O My God ! " Jesus exclaims, " why dost Thou so deal with Me ? Why is Thy love and tender pity no longer shielding Me ? Why art Thou now so far from Me ? My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me P " (Matt, xxvii. 46).

The curse of God has pierced even into the inmost recesses of the soul of Jesus, whither it alone can penetrate. The passage leading into that torture- chamber is closed and sealed against the most violent assaults of creatures ; God only Who made it can enter in there, He reserves that privilege to Himself. In one moment also, when it pleases Him so to do, He can, in the words of Scripture, shake it from the foundtions (Wisdom iv. 19), bringing upon this troubled soul utter destruction because of its sins. As Isaias tells us, The Lord will destroy the wicked and the sinners (Isa. i. 28). And in order to perfect the sacrifice which the Divine Jesus owed to Divine Justice, it was necessary that this last, this supremest blow should be dealt Him ; this is what the Prophet means us to understand when he says : The Lord was pleased to bruise Him in infirmity (Isa. liii. 10). Ah ! there is no need that you should wait for me to bring before your mind s eye this last and most awful scene in the great Tragedy of the Passion. It is enough for you to think how intense must have been the agony of oppression which weighed down the soul of the Son of God when it could wring from Him the bitter cry : My God ! My God ! why hast Thou forsaken Me ? Nothing but the temporary withdrawal within itself of the Divinity of Jesus Christ could have made possible such a cry as that, such agony as that ; or it might be that the power of Almighty God, which extends even to the division of the soul from the spirit (Heb. iv. 12), may have caused the presence of that Divinity to be felt in one portion only of the soul of our crucified Lord, all the rest of that soul being abandoned to the operation of Divine vengeance ; or else by some other secret agency beyond our ken, or by a miracle (for all is extraordinary in Jesus Christ), His Divinity may have found some means of bringing the closest union of God and Man in Him into accord with the utter desolation into which the Man Jesus Christ was plunged by the redoubled and multiplied blows of Divine vengeance. How this was effected it is not for us to ask of one another. This only is certain, that nothing but the strength of an un fathomable agony could have wrung from the Sacred Heart that piteous, that marvellous cry : My God / My God I why hast Thou forsaken Me ! It must remain a mystery.

Throughout the terrible period of this abandonment, the Eternal Father was effecting in Jesus Christ the reconciliation of the whole world, making no more an imputation of sin to that world, lying though it was in wickedness. At the very moment in which He rejected His Divine Son, He opened to us men His arms ; looking upon that Son with wrath and condemnation, He turned upon us sinners a glance full of pity and tenderness. To us He was indeed Father ; to Jesus He was the God Who had forsaken Him. The wrath of the Eternal Father, descending like a thunder-cloud upon the head of the Innocent Son, discharged itself there and passed away. That was what took place upon the Cross ; and the Son of God, reading then at last in the eyes of His Father that His wrath was now wholly appeased, saw that the moment had come for Him to quit this poor world which He had redeemed by His most precious Blood.

And here I might paint for you a picture of the dying Jesus, in this closing scene of His Passion, each moment growing weaker and weaker, gasping for breath, each fainting sigh deeper and more long drawn than the last, till the soul departs, leaving the body cold, rigid, lifeless. Such a picture might indeed stir your emotions, but we must not draw upon our imaginations to depict what is unreal and untrue. The Death of our Divine Lord was not like that. In its every detail it was carefully modeled upon the plan laid down in prophecy. When Jesus saw that at last the measure of His sufferings was filled up, and that God the Father was appeased, He knew that nothing but His Death was needed to disarm Justice. Therefore, commending His soul to God, He cried aloud, with a voice so mighty and so thrilling that it struck terror into the hearts of the multitude: It is consummated! (John xix. 30). Then freely and willingly He rendered up His soul to His Father, in order to fulfill His own declaration that no one took His life away from Him, but that He gave it up of Himself (John x. 18), and also to make us under stand that truly He lived only for us, and that since our peace was made with God He did not wish to remain one moment longer upon earth.

Thus the Divine Jesus died, showing us how true it is that having loved His own He loved them unto the end (John xiii. i). Thus the Divine Jesus died, making peace by His sufferings between Heaven and Earth (Col. i. 20). He died ! He died ! and His last sigh was a sigh of love for men.