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ing me painfully and returning back to pray for me in agony. May Thy toil not fruitless be.”
Holy Mother of God, show us the Blessed Fruit of thy womb, that all His labour for us may not be in vain." O magnify the Lord with me, and let us extol His name together. Come ye to Him to be enlightened, and your faces shall not be confounded (Psalm xxxiii.).
C. And leaving them He went again, and He prayed the third time.
See how the meekness of our Redeemer conquers by enduring. Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land. In the end He will succeed, and will gather these disciples, and through them many more, to His Heart; and the fire that He came to cast on the earth will from His Heart enter theirs. A Heart less loving than His might be tired out when its own chosen ones seem to refuse to listen, like the deaf asp that stoppeth her ears, which will not hear the voice of the wizard that charmeth wisely (Psalm lvii.). But our Saviour Jesus ever does what He teaches. Be not overcome by evil; but overcome evil by good (Romans xii.). If thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he be thirsty, give him water to drink (Proverbs xxv.). Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you ; bless them that curse you ; pray for those that calumniate you (St. Luke vi.).
It was one of the three who are sleeping here, that said ere now to his Master : Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him ? till seven times ? Jesus saith to him : I say not to thee till seven times, but till seventy times seven times.
And if our God will have us thus be so good to enemies, and if He Himself is abundantly patient and gentle with malicious enemies, how immeasurably more compassionate will He be with His own, who are not in malice, but only overcome by infirmity! If Thou didst punish Thy enemies with so great deliberation, giving them time and place whereby they might be changed from their wickedness, with what circumspection hast Thou judged Thy own children! (Wisdom xii.).
MOUNT MORIAH. THE COURT OF THE TEMPLE.
THE ROMAN BARRACKS.
Judas also who betrayed Him, knew the place : because
Jesus had often resorted thither together with His disciples (St. John xviii. 2).
A. A few weeks later St. Peter, rising up in the midst of the brethren—the number of persons was about a hundred and twenty-told them that Judas was the leader of them that apprehended Jesus (Acts i.).
For this reason, among others, the enemies of a man are they of his own household (Micheas vii.), because those who live in his house know all his habits, and his secrets, and his weak points where he is vulnerable. They who live with us day by day generally know us well; so much so that commonly from their judgment of us we may conjec. ture reasonably what our sentence will be at the judgment seat of Christ.
Judas, therefore, knows Lord's secrets. The Priests and Ancients, though they have watched Him so narrowly, and issued strict order, that all who know His place of abode shall give information, yet evidently know nothing; and are helpless, till Judas comes to be their guide.
As the Roman Prætorium stood on Mount Moriah, imme. diately to the north of the Temple, and adjoining to it; most probably the Priests and Rulers, who wanted to have help from the Roman garrison, had given orders to their servants and retainers to assemble in the outer court of the Temple, called the Court of the Gentiles. Here, moreover, they are much nearer to the place which Judas has named as the resort of Jesus, than they would be at the Palace of the Priests. Here, then, on Mount Moriah, not more than two hundred yards distant from the Garden of Gethsemani, they are actively making preparations.
B. Watch the magnitude of these hostile preparations : For wickedness is fearful. The Rulers think that they cannot take precautions enough to secure Jesus, Who has escaped out of their hands so often.
A great multitude with swords and clubs—with lanterns, torches, and weapons. If these clubs are like what the peasants of the country are seen carrying in the present day, the swords might well be dispensed with. The Jews were notoriously bold in battle, and merciless; and an enemy struck by the heavy knob at the end of the clubs would scarcely need a second blow to end his life. As the Romans had taken away the power of life and death, and as the Rulers were anxious that the people should believe that the death of Jesus is the work of the Romans, it may be that on this account they did not arm their servants with swords, but only with clubs and staves.
C. Consider Judas in his new position of leader and captain. Mark how he is despised and mistrusted and narrowly watched lest he should play false and escape; and is made to understand that it will go ill with him if he prove a traitor to his new masters as he has done to Jesus. But still he is the leader, and he is obeyed when he urges them to make preparation diligently. Always hoping to earn a larger pay, he is exaggerating the importance of his services. He is quite sure, so he tells them, that to take Jesus will be a far more difficult enterprise than it was for the Philistines to secure Samson. Though the moonlight is bright, yet he insists that there must be an ample provision of torches and lanterns, as he knows the ground well. Besides the dark woods there are very many caverns and grottoes, where Jesus may easily hide Himself and escape.
From the walls that skirt the Temple area on the east, Judas can point out the Garden accurately to the Priests and Ancients; and with the Roman officers plan the midnight attack. He knows every detail ; how many disciples Jesus will probably have with Him, and what amount of resistance they may make. They are all determined men and strong, and resolved to die with their Master. Simon, the chief man, is especially daring. No precaution can be too great. His own life especially will be in the utmost danger. Beyond all doubt, he is badly paid for the risk he is running. The Romans pledge themselves to make short work both of Master and disciples if there be any resistance. In any case the Priests and Ancients are resolved that His disciples must be made prisoners with their Master, and reserved for heavy chastisement. Unhappy men! They devise vain things. There is no wisdom, there is no prudence, there is no counsel against the Lord (Prov. xxi.).
The undertaking then is made to appear so difficult, and the chances that Jesus will make His escape so great, that though the Priests have got together a large number of servants and followers, armed with clubs, and equipped with lanterns and torches, and though they have also at their command the body of police known as the Temple guard, yet all this does not suffice. They must have help from the hated Romans; and by representing the great importance of the enterprise, and the exceedingly dangerous power and influence of Jesus the Nazarene, and the great probability of a seditious rising of the multitudes now gathered in Jerusalem, they secure the services of a Roman cohort. 1
Some judicious commentators think that the cohort mentioned by St. John would probably not consist of less than five hundred or six hundred men. To us it may seem incredible that such a force should be set in motion, to secure one prisoner. But we must remember that word of wisdom already quoted : Wickedness is fearful. The Jewish Rulers are strained to the highest pitch, and are in a fever of malicious desire to see Jesus dead, and in extreme terror that He will escape.
They know, moreover, how much the people are devoted to Him, and how easily they may be moved to rise up on His behalf.
1“Cohors ergo et Tribunus" (St. John xviii. 12). Some writers, however, think that these words do not necessarily mean a Roman cohort ; though the names, Cohort and Tribune, ordinarily belong to the Roman army.
D. The question occurs, why they have put off His capture to such a late hour of the night?
They are not losing time willingly. It was already night when Judas came to the Palace of the Priests with the news that the convenient time is come. Then the Chief Priests have to despatch messengers to the other Priests, to the Ancients, to the Scribes and Pharisees, in order to gather together as large a body of servants and retainers as possible. After this, from their palace on Mount Sion to the Temple area and the Roman barracks, they have a walk of half an hour. Arrived at the Prætorium, they have to spend time in persuading the incredulous and scornful Romans that there is a necessity for calling out the Roman Guards. The necessary permission is perchance not easily obtained at this time of the night. Despite, therefore, all their eager haste, the silent hours are passing rapidly, and the midnight is drawing near before all their preparations are ready. The hour, as well as the place, has been selected by God's providence. According to Thy ordinance, O God, this holy night is going on.
E. It is the opinion of some holy writers that the Incarnation took place at midnight. A tradition to this effect may have been known to them; or they may have based their opinion on the words of Wisdom applied by Holy Church to the Divine Infant: While all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, Thy Almighty Word leaped down from Heaven from Thy royal Throne (Wisdom xviii.). It is also thought that at midnight Jesus was born. At the same hallowed hour it is convenient that He should give Himself into the hands of His enemies. F. We may be sure that the Rulers do not wish for
any useless delay. No doubt they are well content that the people should be sunk in deep sleep when they set out to arrest Jesus : for, as we remember, the Evangelists record how in their Council held two days ago, in the court of