At Golgotha, in sight of the temple and city of Jerusalem, in the presence of two or three millions of Jews, who had come to the city from all lands, Jesus, the Son of God, hung upon the cross, an expiatory sacrifice for mankind burdened with all manner of sin.
Near cross of her dying Son stood Mary, His mother, filled with grief; by her side John, the beloved disciple, and kneeling at the foot of the cross almost insensible from sorrow and anguish, convulsively winding her arms around the wood of the cross, was Mary Magdalen, the penitent.
On a cross at the right hand hung a penitent thief turned towards the Saviour; at the left hand on another cross groaned another criminal of impenitent heart, blaspheming the Holy One of Israel.
Around the agonizing Saviour stood the Scribes and Pharisees, that hypocritical class of practiced miscreants, who hated and persecuted the innocent Lamb Jesus, even in death, who blink to all the predictions of the prophets whose books they had read, blind to the actual miracles which Jesus had wrought before their eyes to prove His divinity and His mission, filled with envy and hatred, reviled the dying Redeemer.
At a distance stood a crowd of curious, indifferent people, who had come to Jerusalem to attend the feast of the Passover, and having heard of Jesus were present at His crucifixion. Not far from them the rough soldiers and executioners lay around, dividing among themselves the Saviour’s clothes and casting lots for His seamless garment.
This was the society that surrounded the Son of God and Redeemer of the world bleeding on the cross, and in their different phases they are types of the men of today.
Only few were there who clung to the Saviour in unwavering faith and true love, ready to die with Him, and for Him. There were few who suffered all taunts and sneers all revilings and blasphemies, and departed not from the cross. Of these three were especially faithful, viz. Mary, John, and Magdalen.
Those who like Mary and John are pure and innocent, or like Magdalen are weeping for their sins, who confess Jesus with their heart and lips, cling faithfully to Him, and permit neither persecution nor death to separate them from Him, are like the faithful three at the cross.
As then by the cross, so today, the number of the faithful is small, and great is the number of those who, like the careless spectators of the crucifixion, are not decided enemies of Jesus crucified, nor yet His firm friends. They have indeed been baptized in the name of Jesus, they remain externally with the Catholic Church, which Christ founded, but they are sunk in lukewarmness, have no living faith, and are wavering to and fro like a reed between the world and Jesus.
They fear the sneers of the so-called learned and enlightened, many of whom are well represented by the Scribes and Pharisees, who, having no faith in Christ themselves, bear in their hearts only hatred and contempt for His Church; they shun the cross, because it is too heavy for their sensuality; they do not, it is true, commit public crimes, they prize highly a good name, occasionally observe the law of the Church, but are accessible to every error; their ears incline to every blasphemy against the religion of Jesus and His ministers, the priests. Instead of standing fearlessly and boldly for Christ, for the holy faith
He has taught, and which the Church teaches, they turn away, are silent, even go with the Church’s enemies that they may not be sneered at. The are neither hot, nor cold, so that the words of the Scriptures are verified in them: Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth. (Apoc. III. 16.) The Lord casts away from Him these lukewarm, indifferent Christians, as nauseous saliva, and leaves them to their destruction.
The true Pharisees of our day are those who purposely close their eyes to the light of truth, who have put aside faith in Jesus, and are no longer disposed to receive instruction. Their pride, their egotism has blinded them, with their poor reason they wish to understand the mysteries of the Almighty, with their weak intellect to fathom His ways, even seek to be equal to God; they deny every revealed truth, they deny the existence of heaven and hell, they propose to live like the animals, without God, — but their end is, ruin! Few of them, having seen their error, as the thief on the cross at the right hand of Jesus, turn repentingly to the Redeemer; obdurate as the robber and murderer at His left, the Pharisees of our day cease not to blaspheme the Crucified, and to revile His holy Church.
These are assisted by the apostates and unbelievers, who, like the soldiers and executioners, divide among themselves His clothes, and cast lots for His seamless garment. Those clothes which the soldiers divided among themselves, are the truths which the apostates and heretics yet retain after their apostasy from the Church. They have divided these truths, for they have separated themselves into thousands of sects, and possess only portions of the one truth, which Jesus has laid down in. His Church, whole and complete. “Upon my vesture they have cast lots.”
This seamless vesture of Christ is His holy Church that cannot be separated or divided, she is one, and must remain one to the end of time. Concerning this one true Church, the sects all quarrel, all want to be the true Church without considering that, as but one soldier, by the lots, received Christ’s seamless garment, so only one association of men can be the true Church, and that is the association which Christ has chosen.
Thus we find at the cross on Golgotha the different classes of people of our day represented, namely, the pure and innocent; the repenting sinners, firm adherents of Jesus and His teachings; as also the lukewarm, wavering, nominal Christians; obdurate heretics, professed infidels and apostates. So today mankind is divided into like parties.
To which party do you belong, O Christian soul? To which do you wish to belong? Choose! The time of the division is near. The Lord already holds in His hand the winnowing shovel to clear His floor. If you are not a firm adherent of Jesus and His Church, in the storm that is gathering you will be blown like chaff. If you remain with the small group at the cross, in persevering courage, you will stand firm, and on the day when the cross shall appear in the clouds of heaven, you, with Mary, the mother of the (faithful, with John and with Magdalen, will triumph forever, as a victorious knight of the cross. DECIDE!
Source: The Church’s Year by Leonard Goffiné (1648 – 1719)
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