+IHS PASSION OF OUR LORD: THE 34. MEDITATION OF THE Title Of The Cross
The 34. Meditation of the Title of the Cross.And Pilate wrote the title of his cause upon his Cross, and the superscription was over his head, and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, & Latin.
Consider first, that Pilate set up the Title of the cause of his death, and used the words following. First, that thy Lord might be thought worthy of this death, as a traitor, arrogating the name of a King unto himself; and that Pilate might be cleared before Caesar of the crime of not condemning his competitor of the kingdom. Secondly to be revenged of the Jews, who had threatened to complain of him: for he mocked them, that he had crucified their king, and that king also,whom their ancestors had fore told, so many ages before, and had expected with so great affection and desire. These were the causes, that moved Pilate to make that title. And Christ also our Lord ordained this title for himself; but for far other reason, drawn from the mystery of our salvation. First, that thou shouldest know, that he suffered this death of the Cross, not as a guilty person, but as a Savior, adorned with all virtues, that he might rule thy soul, and that thou shouldest submit thy self to be wholly governed by him, who being nailed both hand and foot, cannot hurt his beloved people, but offereth them all salvation from his open wounds. Secondly, to let thee understand, what merchandize are offered to thee to be sold out of this shop of his Cross. For all houses and shops have commonly their signs. Here then thou mayst find all salvation in Jesus, all flowers of virtue in Nazareth, and all security in the King. Run thou hither in all thy necessities, and buy, and take what thou list, without money, or any other exchange, for this merchant requireth nothing of thee, but thy company, and thy love. Thirdly, that thou mayest know by the Table set before the house, what doctrine and Arts are read & taught in this school. For School masters use to write before their gates, what things are taught within their houses. Here thou mayest learn to be saved, to follow all virtues, to rule thy self, to conquer thy enemies, to govern wisely others, that be under thy charge. Our Mr. Christ doth now teach from the chair of his Cross, even as he taught being an Infant in the manger of the Stable. But thou perhaps desirest and easier chair. But such doctrine is not taught, but out of such a chair: for there is no way to salvation, but by the cross and by many tribulations; and the habits of virtues are obtained by painful actions. If thou wilt rule thy self perfectly and subdue they enemies, the world , the flesh, and the Devil; thou shalt not seek after the ease of thy body; but thou shalt be severe against thy body, and pull it out of the power of the Devil by fasting, watching , works of humility, contempt, & tribulations, according to the example of this Master. Neither shalt thou be able to govern others rightly, if thou reliest only upon thy power and authority; except according to this lesson of Christ thy teacher, thou doest out of the very bowels of thy charity, apply thy self wholly and all things in thee to the profit and good of thy subjects. Fourthly, that by this title thou mayest feel, of what force the sign of the Cross is, which thou makest with thy hands. For it is not a juggling trick, or a fly slap, as the blaspheming enemies of the cross do term it: But it is the virtue & over of Christ, for the safety of all believers; that thou being signed therewith, mayest be know by thy badge to be the servant of the Messias thy King; and be a terror to the Devil; and have entrance into the house of Christ, and that all thy actions may tend to the glory of God and to thy own salvation.
Consider secondly, that this Title was written in divers languages. First, because it concerns all men to know this King; and therefore it was set in a high place, that thou mayest behold it a far off, stand still, read, understand and follow this King, forsaking all other masters, whom thou hast hitherto served. Secondly, because the crucified Messias is to be known and praised in all Languages.
Consider thirdly, the manner of the writing. A part of the Title being preserved with great devotion of Chrostians at Rome in the Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem doth declare unto us: First, that the Title was of wood; Secondly not written with a pen, but graven with iron; Thirdly, that the Hebrew was first, then the Greek, and lastly the Latin; Fourthly, that the Greek and Latin was written like the Hebrew from the right hand to the left.
All which things are not without their mysteries. For first these three languages only were set upon the Cross, which were most usual at the time, and so continue until this day: the Hebrew for the Jews, the Greek for the East Church. and the Latin for the West. For seeing that all Learning is written in these tongues, the Scriptures in Hebrew, Philosophy & Rhetoric in Greek and Latin; Christ taught us hereby, that there is neither any divine knowledge, nor human learning and eloquence of any force, except it be sanctified by the blood of Christ, and referred to the glory of him crucified. And therefore the holy Church set these languages only in her divine service, as the most common, and those that are consecrated with the blood of our Lord.
Secondly, the title was engraved, because it should last forever; and in wood, because by the wood he shall always reign over them, whose the wood had overthrown.
Thirdly, the Hebrew was first in order, which the rest do imitate: For our salvation is from the Jews, to whose divine Scriptures all human is to be directed.
Fourthly, they are written from the left hand to the right, to signify that if thou desirest to be exalted by wisdom with Christ, thou must humble thy self, and not be proud in thy own conceit. For Knowledge puffeth up, & wisdom without Christ is earthly, carnal, and diabolical.
Fifthly, the Greek is before the Latin: for first the Grecians, and then the Latins were converted to the faith, and leaving the manners and customers of their fore-fathers, followed that doctrine, which God gave to the Jews in the Hebrew language: that thou shouldest not rely upon thine own wisdom, but follow then with thy whole heart, whom tho knows to be the servants of God. Pray our Lord to engrave this title in thy heart.
IIIJesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.
Consider first, and mark every words of this title. (jesus) a Savior: which name our Lord received, when he first shed his blood for thee. For then seeking thy salvation, he gave part of his blood as a pledge, that he would afterwards give it all for thee. He then received at thy hands circumcision, which was the sign of a sinner, (even as it is the sign of a thief to be bored though the ears:) that the eternal Father omitting thee a sinner might satisfy his wrath upon his son. This name until that day was obscure, and of small reputation; but being fastened to the Cross, it became so glorious, that In the name of Jesus every knee is bowed (Of Nazareth) not on Bethlehem , although he were born in Bethlehem. First, because there was a greater miracle and benefit wrought in Nazareth by the incarnation and conception of our Lord, then by his Nativity in Bethlehem. Secondly, because Nazareth signifeth flourishing and Christ is an odoriferous flower hanging on the Cross, which rendreth unto us the wholesome fruit of grace and glory. (King) who being crowned with a Diadem clothed with blood like a purple robe, reignineth upright, and fast tied by the feet, ready to help thee; with his hands bored through because he would not keep his gifts, but bestow them plentifully upon thee; and with his arms spread, that he may embrace thee, when thou commest. He. did not write Bishop, or Priest, although he did the office of a Priest, but, King: both because he once by himself immolated the bloody sacrifice; by which he did consummate the sanctified, and reigneth forever and ever; and also because it is a priestly kingdom, & a kingly priesthood, where Christ being God is king, doing all things in power; and Christ being man is Priest, obtaining all things by sacrifice. (Of the Jews) sent first to the Jews, not to the gentiles. For I am not sent (saith our Lord) but to the sheep which perished of the house of Israel; and the gentiles do honor God for his mercy: that thou mist thank God, that the Messias was taken from the Jews, and offered unto thee; and show thy self in praising God a true Jew, not by carnal birth, but by spiritual circumcision of thy vices, and true confessions thy sins.
Consider secondly, the true cause of the Cross was to save thee, to adorn thee with virtues, and to govern thee sweetly. Pray thy Lord to suffer noe to rule in thee, but only himself.
Therefore many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the City. Therefore the Priests said to Pilate: do not write, King of the Jews but that he said, I am King of the Jews: Pilate answered: what I have written, I have written.
Consider first, that many Jews did see and read these holy words: but they understood them not. and therefore scorned them: that thou maist learn, that none scoff at divine things, the holy Ceremonies of the Church, the Doctrine & life of Saints, but only they which understand them not. Therefore because it is written; He shall mock the mockers; and , I will laugh in your destruction: do thou take heed, and refrain from these blasphemous scoffing. Secondly, because the name of Jesus was to be highly honored, and this title to be celebrated over the whole world, and the Cross itself to be imprinted in kings foreheads; therefore it was convenient to have it first laughed at and scorned. For even as a brazen vessel doth shine brightest, after it hath been fouled, and rubbed 3with dirt and clay; so he shall be most glorious, which hath suffered most shame, and vexation for Christ. Yield not then to thy afflictions, nor be dismayed, since there is so great glory provided for thee.
Consider secondly, that Christ was crucified not far from the City: for though he be thrown ut by the inhabitant of the City. and of this world; yet because it is proper always to him to spare and to be merciful, he goeth not far, but stayeth hard by, knocking continually at the gates of our heart, to ry, if he may be let in.
Consider thirdly, that the wicked cannot endure the very name of the kingdom of Christ: because the cross of Christ is distasteful to sinners, who choose rather to have a delicate king, the one nailed to the Cross. This was the cause (as St. Damascene testifieth) why the Jews crucified Christ with his face turned from the City looking towards the gentiles; because neither they nor their children should ever receive him for they Messias. Give thou thanks unto Christ, that he would behold the gentile from his Cross, think upon thee, and bring thee to the knowledge of him. Pray him never to turn his eyes from thee.
Consider fourthly, Pilate’s answer. He indeed set on this title, but moved thereunto by the instinct of Gd. Therefore that ought not tone undone, which by God had been done: for the glory of the Cross, and the kingdom of Christ, which os his Church, will stand & continue, through thou shouldest forsake it. For if thou wilt refuse this King and his kingdom, another shall be called and receive the Crown. Remember the holy Ointment and consecrated Oil in thy baptism, and conformation; by which was imprinted in thee the title and sign of the Cross, that the mark and badge of Christ might remain in thee (as oil doth penetrate, is not easily washed off) and that the writing made upon thee by the finger of God, might always be imprinted in thy soul. Pray then our Lord to engrave in thee his new name, and the name of his holy City, and write thee also in the book of everlasting life.
~ Fr. Francois Coster S.J.
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