MEDITATION ON OUR LORD'S PASSION: Jesus Saith To Them: I Am He
HOLBEIN, Hans the Younger
The Passion (detail)
Jesus saith to them: I am he. And Judas also, who betrayed him, stood with them. As soon therefore as he had said to them: I am he; they went backward, and fell to the ground. Jn.xviii.
Consider first the power of Christ, overthrowing a whole company by his word only. His wrath therefore is to be feared, when he shall come to judge, which shows so great power being ready to suffer. Learn hereby to esteem much the word of God, which bringeth salvation to the believer, & perdition to the incredulous.
Consider secondly the miserable change of Judas, who a little before sat our Lords table with the Apostles, & is now overthrown amongst the wicked: For neither shall the dignity of thy order, or religion excuse thee, nor the goodness of others defend thee, nor the piety of thy former life profit thee, whensoever thou shalt forsake Christ, and follow his enemies and sin.
Consider thirdly, that one and the same word is a comfort to the good and a terror to the wicked: This word (I am he) did comfort the Apostles sailing on the sea, provoked the Pharisees to watch, and here overthrew the armed men. Thou therefore, if thou best good land, wilt receive the word of God with plentiful fruit; but if thou best naught, thou wilt take hurt by the best seed.
Consider fourthly, the difference between the ruin of wicked men, and the fall of he just: the wicked man falleth back, & not upon his face because when he suddenly goeth out of this life, he falleth shamefully upon things which he seeth not, and unto punishments, which he was ignorant of: For to fall upon the face, is to acknowledge our sins in this life, & by penance to lament them: The wicked man falleth backward because he becommeth worse by that, which should amend him, that even against his will he shall be compelled to look up to heaven. Do thou admire the goodness of Christ, who by so many means sought the salvation of his enemies; and pray him that he will so strike thy heart with his word, that falling upon thy face thou mayest by humility reconcile the Majesty of God, who is offended with thy sins.
Fr. Francis Costerus S.J. 1616