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Remind us that it is still our time of privilege in this world, in which, by serving Thy little ones, we can serve Thee, and every hour win more and more of Thy everlasting gratitude and love."
D. And the power of darkness.
Jesus is the light of the world. Sin brings darkness. Our Lord was weeping near this spot a few days ago, and saying to Jerusalem : If thou hadst known the things that are for thy peace. But now they are hidden from thy eyes. Culpable blindness is, in this world, one of the worst chastisements of sin. When the eyes of the body are blind, men long for their cure. When the soul is blind, men have no desire for a cure. They have no sense of their misery. Thou sayest, I am rich and made wealthy, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and blind and naked. I counsel thee, anoint thy eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see (Apoc. iii.).
E. It is your hour, and the power of darkness.
By this word, our Blessed Saviour at length gives final permission to men, and to the wicked spirits, to do their will, so far as their will fits in with the designs of His Eternal Father. They will do out of malice, what the Eternal Father out of infinite charity and mercy permits to be done.
From this moment to the hour of the evening sacrifice to-morrow, when all shall be consummated, men have permission to afflict His Sacred Body; and the spirits of darkness have permission to afflict His Most Holy Soul.
He has said, and it shall be done. Therefore has He given a charge to His holy angels, only so far to restrain the action of men and the princes of darkness, that they shall not impede the designs of His Eternal Father.
F. Before He speaks this word, It is your hour, He has carried out in practice His own teaching. For He is the wise King about to go to make war against another king, who first sits down to think whether He is able to meet him, who with twenty thousand cometh against Him.
Most prudently has He calculated. In the Garden, He gave leave to all the human passions of fear and sadness and weariness to help the adversary by setting every obstacle before Him. He has well counted the cost, and now, knowing all things that (shall) come upon Himevery hair of His Head that shall be plucked out; every part of His Body that shall be bruised; every outrage that shall afflict His Heart-He says to the Eternal Father : My heart is ready : and to men with all meekness and charity: This is your hour.
G. This is your hour, and the power of darkness.
More than once Jesus had spoken of this coming hour. I must work the works of Him that sent Me while it is day. The night cometh when no man can work (St. John ix.).
If a man walk in the day he stumbleth not. But if he walk in the night he stumbleth (St. John xi.).
Thou hast appointed darkness, Lord Jesus ; and it is night. In it shall the beasts of the woods go abroad, the young lions roaring after their prey (Psalm ciii.). Men, no longer human, men made like to senseless beasts, are around Him ; they have looked and stared upon Me (Psalm xxi.).
Then the disciples all leaving Him, fled (St. Matt. xxvi. 56).
A. All understood, both His disciples and His enemies, that our Lord's last word, This is your hour, is a permission to men to execute their wicked wish, as if He had said : Be it done according to your will. By this word He accepts all those details which He specified a week ago, near Jericho. Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and (1) the Son of Man shall be betrayed to the Chief Priests and Scribes ; (2) and they shall condemn Him to death ; and (3) Shall deliver Him to the Gentiles ; (4) to be mocked, (5) and scourged, (6) and crucified (St. Matt. xx.).
B. The Apostles are taken unprepared. They enter into the temptation, and scandal begins. They have been forewarned more than once; but they have not considered in their heart the warning words of the Lord their Master. They have not watched and prayed that they may not enter into temptation. Simon Peter had never realised, never believed, that anything like this could come to his revered Master.
Fear is nothing else but a yielding up of the succours from thought. We may say the same of some other temptations. Unless nen say most heartily and most earnestly, O God, lead us not into temptation, when they come into presence of temptation they imagine themselves to be spell-bound; they seem unable to help themselves with reasoning. Drunkards believe themselves to be very firmly resolved until temptation is present. Then they become all at once utterly reckless. Hence the reason why our spiritual guides insist on the absolute necessity of Aying from certain temptations. They know well that in these cases : He that loveth danger shall perish in it (Ecclus. iii.).
c. Then the disciples all leaving Him, fled.
Had the Apostles listened more to our Lord's warning that the flesh is weak, and prayed very earnestly, what would have been the result ? Clearly it is our Lord's will that they be set free. But this He would have managed for them without their having afterwards the life-long sorrow that they had wounded His Heart by leaving Him and fleeing away.
Yet, the boundless charity of the Heart of Jesus turns even their infirmity unto good. He uses the sins and weaknesses of men as the manure which is to help the fig. tree to bear better fruit. O felix culpa! the blessed angels will say in after years, as they contemplate the contrition of Peter and the rest.
D. The disciples fled.
Still we may in contemplation dwell on the extreme pain which Jesus feels when His Apostles leave Him and flee
away. For we must bear in mind what has been already said, that as when eyesight is very perfect it can perceive objects much more clearly than weak eyes can, so the perfect Heart of our Saviour is sensitive in a far higher degree than all other human hearts. Kindness and unkindness affect Him as they affect no other. Loving as He does, He desires with infinite desire a return of true and tender love. And therefore it is quite possible that the desertion of His Apostles is a more painful wound than any inflicted on Him by the armed multitude. It was He who said that word : The enemies of a man are they of his household. They can inflict the severest wounds.
E. The disciples leaving Him, fled.
Stay a little while longer, and dwel: on the loneliness of our Lord. We can gather from the Psalms how much His most affectionate Heart felt the desire to be consoled by sympathy from His own. I looked on the right hand and beheld, and there was no one that would know Me. There is no one that hath regard to My Soul (Psalm cxli.). I am become as a man without help. Thou hast put away My acquaintance far from Me. They have set Me an abomination to themselves (Psalm lxxxvii.). And they that were near Me stood afar off (Psalm xxxvii.).
We may go in spirit to console our Lord in those sanctuaries where He lives in His tabernacle solitary and neglected.
F. Many poor sufferers complain that they are left in loneliness. Our Blessed Lord takes good care to share this kind of sorrow with men, as well as every other. How ready His Heart is to welcome the lonely if they will only come to Him. Come to Me, I will refresh you. In the Cenacle He said : You shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone. And yet, I am not alone, for My Father is with Me. How truly also can every sufferer now say: I am not alone ; for Jesus is with me. I am with Him in tribulation.
G. I am not alone, for My Father is with Me. We may add as a comfort to our Blessed Lord : Thou art not alone,
Lord Jesus, for Thy ever Blessed Mother is also with Thee. The Lord is with thee, Mary; and thou art with thy Lord in His loneliness.
Then the band (Cohort) and the Tribune, and the servants of
the Jews took Jesus, and bound Him (St. John xviii. 12). A. The Cohort and the Tribune.
The other Evangelists are more brief: They holding Fesus led Him to Caiphas. Apprehending Him they led Him. St. John, writing later, adds details by which we see that the soldiers, under the orders of their commanding officer, have joined the servants, and take part in the arrest of Jesus. We have seen that the Priests and Ancients and their servants have hitherto been in front. The soldiers are in reserve ready to quell any resistance, or any rising of the people.
Now when it is clear that there is to be no resistance, why are the soldiers brought into action ? A very probable answer is found in the text already cited : Wickedness is fearful ; a troubled conscience always forea casteth grievous things (Wisdom xvii.).
The Priests and Ancients have been burning with a feverish impatience to lay hands on Jesus, but He has been talking to them with a leisurely calmness and tranquillity, and all the while they have felt their utter powerlessness against Him; they see that He is too strong for them. In that they are right. They must then have help from the well-trained Roman troops. Here they are wrong. The Roman troops are as helpless as themselves till Jesus says the word : It is your hour. When once He has spoken the word, “Let it be done according to your wicked will," the most feeble and decrepit of the Ancients is equal to the task of holding Him and leading Him.
The band (Cohort) and the Tribune.
1 St. Mark xv. 16. They called together for the crowning of thorns the whole Cohort. These are Pilate's Roman guard.