Thursday, 23 June 2016

The tragedy of Calvary. Part 130.

The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken from prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920

"O my people! what have I done to thee ? or in what have I saddened thee, reply to me ?

"For I led thee out of the land of Egypt, and thou hast prepared a cross for thy Saviour.

"O holy God, O holy Strong, O holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

"For I led thee through the desert for forty years, and I fed thee with manna, and I led thee into a really good land, and thou hast prepared a cross for thy Saviour. O holy God, etc.

"What more could I have done to thee, that I did not do? For I planted thee as my most beautiful vine, and thou hast become to me most bitter, and in my thirst thou hast given me vinegar to drink, and thou hast pierced thy Saviour's side with a lance. O holy God, etc.

"Because of thee I struck the Egyptians in their first born, and thou didst deliver me up to scourging. O my people! what have I done to thee, etc.

"I led thee out of Egypt, Pharaoh being drowned in the Red Sea, and thou didst deliver me up to the chief priests. O my people! what have I done to thee, etc.

"Before thee I opened the sea, and with a lance thou hast opened my side. O my people ! what have I done to thee, etc.

"I went before thee in the column of cloud, and thou hast led me to Pilate's pretorium. O my people! what have I done to thee, etc.

"I fed thee on manna through the desert, and thou hast fallen on me with strokes and scourgings. O my people! what have I done to thee, etc.

"I gave thee the waters of salvation from the rock, and thou hast given me vinegar and gall to drink. O my people! what have I done to thee, etc.

"Because of thee I struck the kings of the Canaanites, and thou hast struck my head with a reed, O my people! what have I done to thee, etc.

"I gave to thee a royal scepter, and thou didst place on my head a crown of thorns. O my people ! what have I done to thee, etc.

"With great power I exalted thee and thou hast hung me on the gibbet of the cross. O my people ! what have I done to thee, etc. (Roman Missal, Good Friday Services.)

When with a frightful shock the cross fell into the hole, the body of the suffering Lord with its whole weight came down on the wounds in his hands and feet tearing the flesh and tendons, lacerating the sinews and cords. The Pharisees and leading Jews gave forth a shout of joy and exultation, as they saw the one they so hated lifted up high in the air, hanging in torture from the cruel nails. The dulled nerves were roused to renewed activity, the muscles quivered with terrific agony, the drooping head lifted, but struck against the cross behind, driving the thorns deeper into the flesh. The blood flowed down from his wounds like the red wine which flows from the crushed grapes, as he said through the mouth of his prophet: " O all ye that pass by the way; attend and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow; for he hath made a vintage of me, as the Lord spoke in the day of his fierce anger. From above he hath sent fire into my bones and hath chastised me." (Jer. Lamentations i. 12, 13. Psalm lxvii. i 21-31.)

With a cry his Mother rushed towards him, holding out her hands to him, the widowed Mother partaking in the awful sufferings of her only Son. But the guards stopped her. As the cross slid down into the hole, a hush fell on all the vast multitude. Even his enemies for a moment stopped their cries of exultation at the awful sight of pain and anguish, for human nature finds a fascination in the sight of terrific suffering. It was but for a moment, and then they began again to insult him, to spur on the rabble, and excite the mob.

The executioners then turned their attention to the two thieves lying on their backs, with the arms of their crosses still tied to their arms. Desmas was young, being about the age of Christ, but Gesmas was an old reprobate, hardened in crime. Coming to them, the executioners roughly ordered them to rise from the ground. They gave them the vinegar mixed with bitter myrrh to drink, as was the custom. Then they untied their cords, took off their clothes, tied ropes around their arms, and firmly fixing and nailing the cross-pieces to the body of the crosses, they dragged them up. They tied their bodies and limbs to the crosses with ropes so tightly that the blood burst forth. Gestas broke forth with curses, but Desmas moaning said: " This torture is dreadful, but if they had treated us as they did the poor Galilean, we would have been dead long ago." Thus Christ was crucified between these two wicked men, fulfilling the words of the prophet: " He hath delivered his soul unto death, and was reputed with the wicked." (Isaias liii. 12.)

Now he speaks first from the cross a prayer, not for himself, but for his enemies, saying: " Father forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke xxiii. 34.) The instinct of human nature, when suffering unjustly pain inflicted by others, is to rise in anger and retort on the transgressor. But here was the greatest example of the forgiveness of enemies the world ever saw, an object lesson for all future generations, which the Lord foretold by the mouth of the greatest of his prophets: " And he hath borne the sins of many, and hath prayed for the transgressors." (Isaias liii. 12.)

The tumult of the triumphant Jews is now at its height. (Psalm xxxiv. 16,17. J. James Tissot Life of Christ, Vol. IV., p. 186.) The rabble shout their vilest insults, the Pharisees mock him, the Scribes revile him, and the Sadducee priests remind him that he said he would re store the Temple in three days. His Mother, with John and Mary Magdalen, broke through the cordon of soldiers, draw near the foot of the cross and remain there till the end.