V/. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. 53:4-6
Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Man has fallen, and he continues to fall: often he becomes a
caricature of himself, no longer the image of God, but a mockery of the
Creator. Is not the man who, on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho, fell among
robbers who stripped him and left him half-dead and bleeding beside the road,
the image of humanity par excellence? Jesus’ fall beneath the Cross is not
just the fall of the man Jesus, exhausted from his scourging. There is a more
profound meaning in this fall, as Paul tells us in the Letter to the
Philippians: “though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with
God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,
being born in the likeness of men... He humbled himself and became obedient
unto death, even death on a Cross” (Phil 2:6-8). In Jesus’s fall beneath the
weight of the Cross, the meaning of his whole life is seen: his voluntary
abasement, which lifts us up from the depths of our pride. The nature of our
pride is also revealed: it is that arrogance which makes us want to be
liberated from God and left alone to ourselves, the arrogance which makes us
think that we do not need his eternal love, but can be the masters of our own
lives. In this rebellion against truth, in this attempt to be our own god,
creator and judge, we fall headlong and plunge into self-destruction. The
humility of Jesus is the surmounting of our pride; by his abasement he lifts
us up. Let us allow him to lift us up. Let us strip away our sense of
self-sufficiency, our false illusions of independence, and learn from him, the
One who humbled himself, to discover our true greatness by bending low before
God and before our downtrodden brothers and sisters.
Lord Jesus, the weight of the cross made you fall to the ground. The weight of our sin, the weight of our pride, brought you down. But your fall is not a tragedy, or mere human weakness. You came to us when, in our pride, we were laid low. The arrogance that makes us think that we ourselves can create human beings has turned man into a kind of merchandise, to be bought and sold, or stored to provide parts for experimentation. In doing this, we hope to conquer death by our own efforts, yet in reality we are profoundly debasing human dignity. Lord help us; we have fallen. Help us to abandon our destructive pride and, by learning from your humility, to rise again.
Pater noster, qui es in cælis:
O quam tristis et afflicta
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