Friday, 24 June 2016

The tragedy of Calvary. Part 131.

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

"And one of the robbers who were hanging blasphemed him saying: " If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us." But the other rebuked him, saying: " Neither dost thou fear God, seeing that thou art under the same condemnation. And we indeed justly, for we have received the due rewards of our deeds, but this man hath done no evil." And he said to Jesus : " Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom." And Jesus said to him : « Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise." (Luke xxiii. 30-43.)

The Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea has the following : " But the robber on the right hand, whose name was Demas, seeing the godlike grace of Jesus said : 'I know thee, Jesus Christ, that thou art the Son of God. I see thee, Christ, adored by myriads of Angels. Pardon me my sins, which I have done. Do not in my trial make the stars come against me, or the moon, when thou shalt judge all the world, because in the night I have accomplished my wicked purposes. Do not urge the sun, which is now darkened on account of thee, to tell the evils of my heart, for no gift can I give thee for the remission of my sins. Already death is coming upon me because of my sins. But thine is the propitiation. Deliver me, O Lord of all, from thy fearful judgment. Do not give the enemy power to swallow me up, and to become the heir of my soul, as that of him who is hanging on the left, for I see how the devil joyfully takes his soul and his body disappears. Do not even order me to go away into the portion of the Jews. . . . Before then, O Lord, my spirit departs, order my sins to be washed away, and re member me, the sinner, in thy kingdom, when upon thy lofty throne thou shalt judge the twelve tribes of Israel."

If authentic, this was a touching prayer. " And Jesus said to him, Amen, I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise." (Luke xxiii. 43.) This was an example of full forgiveness at the moment of death for even a thief and murderer, as the example of Mary Magdalen was of the person guilty of immorality, while the mocking Jews tilled with pride and presumption, who knew it all, head strong in mental rebellion, stood and mocked him.

While this is taking place, the executioners took his garments down to the north beside the wall, and divided them among themselves, making an equal division. They followed a custom in doing this, for the Roman law (Lex De Bonis Damnatorum.) gave the executioners the clothes of the criminals they put to death.

But when they saw the seamless garment woven by his Mother, made like the robe worn by every Temple priest, without a seam, they did not like to cut it, for then it would be ruined. They brought forth a board with figures, on which, when off duty, they used to while away the time in playing games of dice, and by that they decided the one to whom it belonged, as the prophet said: " They have dug my hands and feet. They have numbered all my bones. They have looked and stared upon me. They have parted my garments amongst them, and upon my vesture they have cast lots." (Psalm xxi 17-19) A messenger then arrived from Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who informed them that he was ready to buy the garments, and the soldiers sold them in a bundle to him.

Then the executioners put ladders up against the cross, and unfastened the ropes with which they had fastened the Lord's body to the cross, lest when they raised it up the shock might tear away his hands and feet from the nails. Then he hung alone by the terrible wounds in his hands and feet. The blood which had stopped by the pressure of the cords began to circulate again and flowed trickling down from his wounds. He could not raise up his head without driving the thorns deeper, for the crown of thorns would strike against the cross behind his head. He was torn with the stripes of the flagellation, and deep black and blue stripes were all over his body. His joints were dislocated by dragging his limbs to fit the holes they had bored in the cross. In places his bones appeared. " They have numbered all my bones." (Psalm xxi, 18.) Deep black, blue and discoloured wounds going deep into the flesh covered him. His head was bowed, his eyes bloodshot, his tongue parched, his lips drawn. There was no place where his skin was whole, and there he hung on the wounds made by the nails.

A band of eighteen Scribes, Pharisees and Rabbis had hurried to Pilate's palace, and once more tried to get him to change the Inscription, so as to read that he only said he was the King of the Jews. But with a haughty gesture he turned them away with the same words he uttered at the trial: " What I have written, I have written." They now came back to Calvary, and approached as near as they could to the crosses; they vented their spite and anger against Pilate on the Victim as they passed by. " And they that passed by blasphemed him wagging their heads, and saying: ' Vah, thou who destroyest the temple of God, and in three days buildest it up again, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.' In like manner the chief priests, with the Scribes, and the ancients, mocking said: 'He saved others, himself he cannot save. (Psalm ixi. 9) If he be the king of Israel let him now come down from the cross and we will believe in him. He trusted in God, let him deliver him now if he will have him, for he said, I am the Son of God. And the self-same things the thieves reproached him with." (Matt, xxvii, 39-44.)

A band of a hundred Roman soldiers had been drawn up from the beginning around Calvary, under the command of Emelianus, lest there might be any attempt to rescue the condemned. When the prisoners had been raised on the crosses, these were relieved by a band of fifty soldiers under Abenadar, who when later converted, took the name of Ctesiphon. Under him was another officer called Casius, who, after his conversion, took the name of Longinus. The latter was a trusted messenger in Pilate's employ. These guards, under strict Roman military discipline, filed around the top of the little hill. " And they sat down and watched him." (Matt, xxvii, 36) And the four soldiers who had crucified him, having received the money for his garments, having nothing else to do, came up the hill, and entering within the wall, they sat down with the soldiers. Criminals crucified sometimes live for days, and it was the custom to guard them lest their friends might rescue them. Josephus tells us how one of his friends had been so rescued and brought back to life.

"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his Mother, and his Mother's sister Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore saw her, and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his Mother: ' Woman, behold thy son. And after that he said to the disciple : ' Behold thy Mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her to his own." (John xix 25-27) Even in his agony, he did not forget his Mother, but provided for her a home with John he loved the most. While John was bishop of Ephesus, she lived with him till her death, which happened when she visited Jerusalem long years afterwards.

Dionysius, member of the great Council, the Areopagus at Athens, who saw the sun darkened when Christ was dying, whom St. Paul converted in his first sermon to the Athenians, tells us he went to see John, the beloved Apostle at Ephesus, and there he met the Mother of the Lord. He says that her appearance was so striking, so sublime, that if he did not know there was a God in heaven he would have knelt down and worshiped her. We may then imagine the natural beauty of form with which nature and grace had endowed her. But " All the beauty of the king's daughter is within." (Psalm xliv. 14.)

The rule Providence follows is, that when persons are called to fill a position, God fills them with all the graces wanted to fit them for that state. But what must have been the graces of her who alone was the Mother of the Word of God, the Divine Son, with all the fulness of the Godhead. She alone of all Eve's daughters was a Virgin, a Wife and at the time a widowed Mother. From the very apostolic age we find records, writings, monuments, etc., showing us in what honor she was held by the Apostles. Writers try to tell that she was only an ordinary woman, but we do not find that history sustains them.