« EdellinenJatka »
who are passing by, stay a little while to watch, to listen, to consider in your heart, and so find out the treasures hidden under the words that you have so often skimmed over, leaving the heavenly riches they contain unnoticed and unheeded ”.
"Attendite." Pause on your way; make this a halting place.
The Priests have no intention of returning to the city by the straight steep path immediately in front of them. They came down by it, but will not go back by it, because they wish to have Jesus in their own keeping for the night; to examine Him at their leisure, and prepare their indictment against Him before they give Him up to the Romans. This they can do better in the palace of the High Priest. Instead, therefore, of directing their march straight up the steep path to the Golden Gate, they choose the road, so tradition tells us, which is now known as the Road of the Captivity.. It ascends the precipitous side of Mount Moriah, but obliquely, bearing to the south. By this road they climb the hill, but at the same time pass down along the eastern wall to its southern extremity. They are, probably, going back into the city by the way along which our Saviour and His disciples walked from the Cenacle to the Garden. They enter into Jerusalem by a gate at the south-eastern angle, and pass through the lower quarter of the city called Ophel, south of Mount Moriah and the Temple. Here, as has been noted, the poor, who were more favourable to Jesus, had their dwelling-places.
Passing through Ophel, the Priests with the multitude arrive at the flight of steps leading up from the lower city to a gate through which they enter into we may call the high town on Mount Sion. Going westwards from this gate for about a quarter of a mile, they arrive at the enclosure, within which stands the Palace of the Priests in the south-west corner of the city, about two hundred yards from the Cenacle where our Saviour supped.
Mount Sion is the highest part of the city. David was the first who gained possession of this stronghold, till then occupied by the Jebusites. The name Jerusalem is supposed by some writers to be a compound,-formed out of the two names, Jebus and Salem. David took the castle of Sion; the same is the city of David. And David dwelt in the castle, and called it the city of David (2 Kings v.). The ground lying northward, a little lower than the fortress of Sion, is sometimes called “the Daughter of Sion”.
Between Mount Sion and Mount Moriah on which the Temple stood, runs a very narrow valley called Tyropæon. A bridge across this narrow valley connected the Temple with Mount Sion.
Some modern students are calling in question all these old traditions here given with regard to the position of Mount Sion. They bring arguments to prove that what is commonly called
Mount Moriah, on the eastern side of the city, was the ancient Sion. But this new theory is not accepted by those who seem best informed on questions of ancient topography; and the arguments adduced in favour of it are not convincing.
Following, then, the commonly received opinion, we can calculate that from Gethsemani to the Palace of the Priests, our Blessed Lord was dragged a distance of about a mile.
The way, as we have seen, for half the distance was up a very steep hill; and we may assume that the road was rough and rugged. It was not a highway for carriages. No carriage could be dragged up that steep. If the Romans have made a road for military purposes, it is a rugged one paved with rough-hewn blocks. If there is no Roman road, but only one of the ordinary bridle-paths, from the nature of the ground it is, most probably, very rocky and covered with loose stones.
B. They brought Jesus to the High Priest.
From what has been said, we can begin to form some notion of the amount of suffering which is hidden under these words: They brought Jesus to the High Priest. Very soon after starting they cross the torrent of Cedron. A tradition tells us that there the words of the rogth Psalm have their fulfilment: He shall drink of the torrent in the way. In one of the recorded revelations we read that the guards in charge of Him, either because the low and narrow bridge was crowded, or from sheer cruelty, threw Him into the torrent and dragged Him through it. The old tradition harmonises so far with this account, that we find the belief still existing that our Saviour, when He fell, left the impress of His knees on a stone in the brook.
C. He shall drink of the torrent in the way.
From these words, must we conclude that our Saviour did actually drink of the water when He fell in the torrent ? or is this only a figurative way of expressing that He was dragged through the water ? Of one thing we may be quite sure, that after the profuse sweat of blood in the Garden, and all the extreme exhaustion of the preceding days, His agonising thirst has already set in; and our Blessed Saviour may have thought it well to slake His thirst a little.
If so, we cannot fail to see how dearly bought the little refreshment is. The Prophet Amos wrote a word that often came true in the history of the Jews, and still more often during the persecutions of the Christian Church. Your festival days shall be turned into lamentation and mourning (c. viii.). We see, too, in the lives of the saints how even their repose and refreshment is mingled with mourning. And if we knew all the details of our Lord and our Lady's sojourn on earth, we should surely find that this is much more the case with them. Every hour of their life, even the hours of rest and refreshment, are all coloured by those tints of hallowed sorrow, which from Calvary are now spread over the whole of the redeemed world.
As we have seen, the Ever-Blessed Mother, if not present in body, is, through the light sent down on her from Heaven, witnessing every detail. As, then, kneeling by her side, we see her frame quiver when our Lord falls in the torrent, and how she sinks down prostrate with Him, we need not fear to speak to her, for she knows full well that our need is greater than her Son's; that the real sinners are more to be pitied than He Who only carries our sins and our griefs.
Eia Mater, fons amoris,
Holy Mother, source of love,
may mourn with thee.
“Thy tears of compassion, Holy Mary, are thy Son's true refreshment. Obtain for our hard hearts some little share of thy holy grief.”
D. They brought Jesus to the High Priest,
With desolation, the Prophet of Lamentation writes, with desolation is all the land made desolate because there is no one that considereth in the heart (Jerem. xii.).
In contemplation we are endeavouring to consider in the heart; to use our reason, and to use, also, our heart, while we watch and listen.
And so, when we have but a few brief words set before us: They brought Jesus to the High Priest, we do not confine ourselves to the minimum that lies on the surface, but endeavour, as wisely as we can, to reach to all that must be underlying this upper crust. This is what our masters in spiritual life exhort us to attempt. Helped by grace from above, we use our natural powers, and consider in our hearts the brief story given to us.
In order, then, to consider wisely in our hearts the journey of our Lord, we must help ourselves from other parts of the sacred narrative. From the known we must reach to the unknown.
From those portions, then, of the sacred story where more detail is given us, we see clearly that the men who have Jesus in their power, and that the spirits of wicked ness who are guiding and directing, and most of all, that our Blessed Saviour Himself and the Eternal Father, wish an amount of suffering which is simply beyond all our power of measuring, to be crowded into the short watches of this night and of the morrow. We may therefore safely conclude that it is difficult, very difficult, for us to exaggerate the torments inflicted on our Saviour during His progress from Gethsemani to the house of the Priests.
We must not, however, forget that He is desiring every one of these torments, and most heartily welcomes them. So, too, doubtless, does His Blessed Mother heartily desire them as He does, and with Him welcomes them all. For she, too, knows that the chastisement of our peace is upon Him.
E. We gather, then, from the revelations vouchsafed to the holy, that during this journey, as on every other, our Saviour fell several times to the ground.
6 Attendite." Surely we may well stay a little while to contemplate one at least of these heavy falls.
They are dragging Him hurriedly up the rough and steep path. With His legs shackled and impeded, He cannot be properly said to walk; He is being dragged along, and His bare feet at every step are being bruised and wounded by the stones and the heavy boots of the soldiers. His arms, tightly bound behind Him, can give Him no protection, no help. Therefore, whenever He falls, His sacred face is grievously bruised and wounded by the stones.
But the stones are not cruel enemies; they do no more than what needs must be. But men, with their hard hearts, add on much that is not necessary.
Wickedness, we have seen, is fearful, and fear is cruel. Jesus, their prisoner, is not in terror ; but they, His masters, are in grievous terror, for they are excited and strained to the highest pitch by the fear that He will escape. " Make haste, guards; do it quickly; lead Him most carefully," are words frequently repeated with feverish impatience. And while they are in this state of frenzy, a false step, a stumble, still more, a sudden heavy fall to the ground, excites them as if it were an attempt to escape. And at once every stumble and every fall is mercilessly chastised, as if the prisoner had made a desperate attempt to rescue Himself.
They have clubs and staves in abundance, and they use them. The ropes, too, are not only useful to drag Him along, but to chastise Him grievously when He startles them by falling. We learn, too, from some revelations, that whenever He falls, it is by the hair of His Sacred Head that they drag Him to His feet again.
F. If, therefore, we consider in our hearts the wounds and bruises on His bare feet-from the stones, from the kicks, and from the heavy footsteps of the soldiers and servants; then also the bruises and wounds on His Head from the falls, and from the strokes of the ropes and sticks, and from the plucking out of His hair ; also the multiplied wounds and bruises in His Body from heavy blows, and the tight cords and chains and ropes, we shall surely see that already even at this early stage of His Passion, the words of the Prophet are having their fulfilment in Him : The whole head is sick, the whole heart is sad. From the sole of the foot unto the top of the head, there is no soundness therein, wounds and bruises and swelling sores. They are not bound up, nor dressed, nor fomented with oil (Isaias i.).