In this week of contemplating the Passion of Our Lord, I offer the following thoughts/questions that may be of help while reciting the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. How he suffered for us! These "points to ponder" first appeared as a post on Catholic365.com. The original post can be found HERE.
The First Sorrowful Mystery—The Agony in the Garden
· Imagine the Garden of Gethsemane, a favorite place of prayer for Jesus and the apostles. It is said to be very beautiful.
· Agony: 1. Intense pain of mind or body 2. A violent struggle or contest (Merriam-Webster) This agony was a mental suffering.
· “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by,” Jesus asks the father. As a human, Jesus dreaded suffering as much as we do.
· Jesus surrenders to the Father’s will even though he knows full well what he will suffer. “My Father, if this cannot pass me by without my drinking it, your will be done!”
· Three times Jesus asks for the cup to be taken away and each time again surrenders to the Father’s will. An angel then came to strengthen him. Was it just the sight of the angel that strengthened him?
· Jesus was let down by his three closest friends. He needed their company and wanted them to pray with him. Three times he asked them. They gave in to sleep instead. They did not know what lay ahead. Nor do we at any point in our lives. That’s why we must always try to do what the Lord may be asking.
· “In his anguish he prayed with all the greater intensity, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.” This is a very rare medical condition called hematohidrosis, caused by extreme stress. It is said to also make the skin more fragile.
· The soldiers arrive and Jesus says, “Sleep on now. Enjoy your rest!” The apostles receive this well deserved sarcasm.
· Jesus is betrayed with a kiss by one of his very own, with whom he had just sat at table and celebrated Passover. Let’s not forget that Jesus loved Judas. This was a painful betrayal of friendship.
· One of the apostles grabs his sword and slashes off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus answers, “Enough!” then touches the man’s ear and heals him. The soldiers witness a miracle before their very eyes and still continue the arrest. How often do we too ignore the miracles in our lives?
The Second Sorrowful Mystery—The Scourging at the Pillar
· We know that because of the hematohidrosis Jesus’ skin was very fragile and tender. It was in that state that he received the blows from the torture instruments.
· Did Mary witness the scourging? It was done in a public place. Did any of Jesus’ followers see it? Imagine their anguish.
· The Precious Blood of Jesus is spilled all over the ground. The Precious Blood! The soldiers were probably spattered with it. They probably stepped in it.
· How long did the scourging last? For Jesus and for those who loved him, it must have seemed an eternity.
· We can easily ask how the soldiers could have done such a thing. How could they be so sadistic? Yet, we are the ones who truly inflicted the wounds.
· Jesus had told the apostles that this would happen. Speaking of himself as the “Son of Man” Jesus said, “He will be delivered up to the Gentiles. He will be mocked and outraged and spat upon. They will scourge him and put him to death, and on the third day he will rise again.” (Luke18: 32-33)
· Surely the apostles put this prediction out of their minds at the time. They must have been in denial, hoping he was speaking in some kind of figurative sense.
· On this day they came to realize that Jesus’ words were literally going to happen. Imagine their horror and fear.
· Did the apostles wonder why Jesus would allow this to happen? They knew he had control of even the wind and the waves. Why would he allow this to be done to him? Perhaps some were starting to understand. “Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. “ Is 53:5
· What was the reaction of Pilate’s wife when she heard of what Pilate had ordered? Perhaps she too was filled with fear.
The Third Sorrowful Mystery—The Crowning with Thorns
· What horrible irony—the King of Kings and Lord of Lords mocked and tortured with a crown of thorns.
· “The soldiers then wove a crown of thorns and fixed it on his head, throwing around his shoulders a cloak of royal purple.”
· “Repeatedly they came up to him and said, ‘All hail, king of the Jews!’,’slapping his face as they did so.”
· The Savior, the long awaited one of Israel, has his kingship mocked. He suffers now the additional pain of derision.
· “Meanwhile the men guarding Jesus amused themselves at his expense. They blindfolded him first, slapped him, and then taunted him: ‘Play the prophet; which one struck you?’ And they directed many other insulting words at him.”
· Do you think they blindfolded Jesus to avoid looking into the eyes of love? Perhaps they could not do what they did and also see his eyes.
· Have you ever felt that you were being treated in a manner that you did not deserve? Think of Jesus wearing this crown. How many thorns pierced his scalp?
· “…I am an object of reproach, a laughingstock to my neighbors, and a dread to my friends….” Psalm 31:12
· “Continually striking Jesus on the head with a reed and spitting at him, they genuflected before him and pretended to pay him homage.”
· We are the reason Jesus endured this suffering and mocking. When we genuflect before him perhaps we can remember and offer him true homage.
The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery—The Carrying of the Cross
· How heavy was the cross Jesus carried? Even just the crosspiece would weigh about 100 pounds. Have you ever lifted that much?
· Jesus had lost a great deal of blood and his skin had been ripped apart. In this state he carried the cross. Unimaginable.
· He fell three times. How painful each fall must have been. Surely he felt that he would not be able to get up.
· Imagine Jesus meeting his mother. What emotional pain he must have endured at the sight of her horrified face. How could any mother see her son suffering like that?
· Perhaps the “women of Jerusalem” knew each other. Did they gather together to find Jesus on the Via Dolorosa? Were they women who had shown him hospitality? Women who were his friends?
· How did Simon feel about helping Jesus carry the cross? Did he realize, in some way, what a mystical privilege he had been given?
· Scripture says that Simon was forced to help Jesus carry his cross. But surely as he carried it, he was flooded with grace. Did it change his life?
· Did Veronica see the blood dripping down Jesus’ face and felt that she just had to do something? Was Jesus’ blood perhaps dripping into his eyes?
· Imagine the tenderness with which Veronica must have patted her own veil against his skin. Imagine the look of gratitude and love that Jesus surely gave her.
· Imagine Veronica discovering the miraculous image of the face of Jesus on her veil.
The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery—The Crucifixion
· Jesus arrives at Golgotha. Imagine the pain of the torn flesh of his back against the cross.
· Imagine the pain of the nails entering his hands.
· Imagine the pain of the nails in his feet.
· Think of the pain as the cross is lifted high and his weight is pressed against his nailed hands and feet..
· How difficult it was for Jesus to breathe as he had to press upward against his feet. How awful it must have been for him to not be able to get enough air.
· Jesus gives us his mother. Even in the agony of his death Jesus was still thinking of us.
· How sweet was the reassurance Jesus gave to the good thief that he would see him in paradise. Who was the good thief? Had he listened to Jesus preach before? Or did he simply realize by the power of the Holy Spirit, or the power of the presence of Jesus, that this was indeed the King of kings?
· “My God, my God, why hast thou abandoned me?” Did Jesus the man truly feel abandoned? Was this an exclamation of the depths of his suffering and not to be taken literally?
· “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” With what complete and utter surrender to the will of the Father did Jesus die. “It is finished.”
· When the soldier’s lance pierced the side of Jesus, blood and water gushed forth, the blood representing the Precious Blood of Jesus which is now given to us in the Eucharist, and the water representing the water of Baptism. Imagine the Divine Mercy image and the perfection of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. May we be eternally grateful.
As we say the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary may we come to a greater understanding of the infinite depth of God’s love for us and the mystical power of the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus, our Lord.
Oh, Father, for the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.