Monday, November 24, 2014

Weep for the sufferings of Christ in others

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Strangely, Jesus tells the Daughters of Jerusalem not to weep for him.  We must not think this is a rebuke but rather a call to a fuller comprehension of the nature of the Passion and their own and other's participation in it.  Houselander tells us that Christ is "pointing to His passion in the souls of each of those women, in the souls of each of their children, and their children’s children all through time. He is pointing to all those lives to come through all the ages in which His suffering will go on."  The suffering of His Passion will continue in us and others throughout the generations.  It is for those who suffer in hidden ways that these Daughters of Jerusalem and you Daughters of St. Philip Neri must in your compassion pray for the most.  It is for those who are unsupported and uncomforted that you must seek to lift up to God in your prayer.  Weep for Christ in these souls and in your own hidden sorrows.

“Now Christ is followed by a great multitude of people, among them women who mourn over Him, who weep loud for Him. A strange thing happens. He turns to them and says, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Lk 23:28–31).

We have seen how until now, and indeed all through His passion, He has accepted the compassion of anyone at all who would give it to Him, accepting even the forced help of Simon. But this accepting on Christ’s part began long before the hour of His Passion struck; it was part of His plan of love from all eternity, His plan to depend on His creatures, to need them, to need all that they could and would give to Him to fulfill that unimaginable plan of His love.

But, above all else, it is compassion that Christ has always wanted from his people, has always asked for; He has wanted them to be with Him, to comfort Him just by entering into His suffering with Him—not to take away His suffering but to enter into it with Him, because it is His and it is the expression of His love for them!

What, then, is the meaning of this curious refusal of the compassion, of the tears, of the women of Jerusalem? “It is not for me that you should weep, daughters of Jerusalem; you should weep for yourselves and for your children.” Is this a refusal, a rebuke, or a warning?
In a sense, it is none of these, but a showing, a pointing to something which, if these women miss, and if we miss today, they and we will have missed the meaning of Christ’s passion—which if we miss, all our devotion to the person of Jesus Christ in His historical Passion, all our meditations and prayers, will be sterile and will fall short of their object to reach and comfort the heart of Christ. He is pointing to His passion in the souls of each of those women, in the souls of each of their children, and their children’s children all through time. He is pointing to all those lives to come through all the ages in which His suffering will go on.

For Himself, the consummation of His love for the world is close: He is very near to Calvary now, in a few hours it will be over; He will be at peace and He will have entered into His glory. But in the souls of us His suffering will begin again, and it will go on all through the years to come. Evil will go on gathering strength all through the centuries to come; the Christ in man will be assaulted and threatened by it.

There will be many who will follow literally in Christ’s footsteps, who will enter into His glory with Him through His sacrifice—martyrs who give their lives for their faith, young men who willingly give their lives for their country, children who dieChrist’s own redeeming death because they die in the full power and splendor of innocence. It is not for these that we must weep, though we may weep for ourselves in our seeming loss of them. They are the privileged ones whose love is immediately consummated in Christ’s love. We must weep for ourselves, and for our fellows in whom Christ suffers on, still laboring, stumbling, falling on the Via Crucis, still mocked and goaded and assaulted on the way, still in the midst of the struggle.

There are those in every age in whom the suffering of Christ is manifest, almost visible, the beauty of His love shining through the ugliness of their circumstances. It is not for Christ in them that we must weep. It is for Christ whose beauty is hidden, Christ in the outcast, in the man who is wrestling with temptation, who is unrecognized, uncomforted; Christ in those whom we pass by without seeing, without knowing, whom we allow to stagger on, on His way, loaded with His too heavy cross, unhelped, unwept, uncomforted.

It is in order that we should seek Him and give our compassion to Him, weep for Him in these that Christ showed His need for sympathy in His earthly life and on the way of the cross. We must weep for Him in these and in our own souls, in these days, the days of the dry wood: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Lk 23:28–31).”

Excerpt From: Caryll Houselander. “Way of the Cross.”