+IHS PASSION OF OUR LORD: The Eighth Meditation Of The Falling Of The Jews To The Earth
Prayer in the Garden
Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said to them: Whom seek ye? They answered him: Jesus of Nazareth. Jn.xviii
Christ went forward to meet them, that he might teach thee:
First that he was not ignorant of the practices of the wicked.
Secondly that he made hast to die of his own free will.
Thirdly that he is ready to receive a sinner, if he will reclaim himself.
Wherefore stir up thy self to the love of Christ: and to offer thyself wholly unto him, who yielded himself cheerfully into his enemies hands for thy sake. (whom ye seek?) as if he should say consider I pray ye whom ye seek, a just & innocent man, who hath used to do every man good, & to hurt no man, who for your salvation descended down from heaven, & who at last shall come to be judge over all creatures. Do thou consider these things, whensoever thou shalt be tempted to offend God. For as the blessed Apostle St Paul saith: By sinning the Son of God is trodden upon, & ignominiously used, (Jesus of Nazareth) they knew not that he was present, for they did not say we seek thee, but Jesus of Nazareth. Note that for thee Jesus is sought for, to be put to death, that is, a Saviour, and, of Nazareth, that is, flourishing and adorned with all virtue, for none else by his death could deliver thee from the flames of hell fire: Therefore in all thy necessity thou must seek for him, and pray him that thou mayest not seek him to his shame and death, but to thine own salvation, and in seeking thou mayest find him, thou mayest always keep him.
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.
Again therefore he asked them: Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he. If therefore you seek me, let these go their way. That the word might be fulfilled which he said: Of them whom thou hast given me, I have not lost any one. Jn.xviii.
Consider first the malice of the wicked, which is pacified, neither with sweetness, nor punishment. For the blindness of obdurate malice doth increase: as in these men who being taught & admonished who Christ was, did not yet acknowledge him: For they answered not, we seek thee, but, speaking as it were of another, they said Jesus of Nazareth.
Consider secondly the great care, which Christ had of his people, of whom in so great perils he was more careful, then of himself. This is the perfect love of our neighbors to help them though it be hard to our own loss.
Thirdly if in so great adversity he had care of a few Apostles, will he not now being free from all perils, & quiet, be careful in heaven for his only beloved spouse the whole Church? Yes verily he is careful & desirous to help every particular member there of. This place is full of comfort, to consider that our Lord thinketh on thee.
Consider fourthly how our Lord doth glory in this, that he had not lost any of his Disciples. In like manner how much cause of joy mayest thou conceive, if no man be the worse by thy words, example, or negligence; but thou hast rather gained, and preserved many.
Lastly pray thou unto Christ, that he wll never cease to have care over thee.
Fr. Francis Costerus S.J. 1616