Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On the shameful arrest and leading away of the Lord

LORD JESUS CHRIST, Hope of the saints and Tower of strength in every tribulation, I bless and thank you for underdoing so violent an arrest by hateful enemies, for the arrogant laying of sacrilegious hands on you by those sent to arrest you, and for the brutal looks and menacing shouts of those carrying arms against you. I bless and thank you for your harsh and cruel binding, for your rough and ruthless detention, for your painful pummeling, and for your being so abruptly dragged away. Amid all this tumult, while you were being rushed to your death by mean-spirited and worthless villains, your dear disciples, who had deserted you, looked upon you from a distance with great sorrow. Lord, King of kings, you, who have dominion over all creatures and who alone among mortals are truly free, why did you allow yourself to be so violently taken captive and to be so wickedly led away by despicable men, whom you yourself had created and for whom you have always done good? How grave a crime was commited against you, who are free of all sin, and how rash the insult to your almighty power, when you, deliverer of the souls, were bound with a criminal's cord and were led away captive, as if you were the worst of thieves. Loving jesus, supreme Exemplar of virtue, you chose most patiently to suffer this cruelty for us, in order to give us an example of your singular meekness and to fulfill Isaiah's clear prophecy: He shall be led as a sheep to a slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth. He was offered because it was his own will (Isa. 53:7).
My soul, show compassion on the sorrow and arrest of the beloved Lord, your God, who voluntarily suffers all this for your sins. May your lament be endless, and may your eyes yield its tears because it is the only Son of God who is being so unworthily treated for you. See, what those impudent men are doing. They hold Jesus captive and take him bound before the high priest Annas and Caiaphas. When arrested, he does not resist; when bound, he does not complain; when led away, he does not rebuke; when led away, he does not protest; when dragged off, he does not rebuke, rather he meekly goes, silent as a lamb and, though innocent, he follows after them and humbly endures it all.

My God, I ask, that the bitter pain you experienced in your sorrowful captivity may often enter into my heart's depths but especially during the night hour of Matins. May it arouse in me a fervent love for this holy prayer, may it banish sloth and make me watchful and eager to persevere in praising you. In this way, and in some measure at least, I may repay you for your love and for all that you have done for me. You were born into this world during the night, and during the night you were betrayed, arrested, and bound with ropes. Therefore, Lord, during night prayer I will be especially mindful of your name and reflect on how greatly you have suffered for me, who am the worst of sinners.

After "On the Passion of Christ According to the Four Evangelists - Prayers and Meditations" - Fr. Thomas a Kempis