After meditating on the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, and the Carrying of the Cross, with the Fifth and final Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary we arrive at the climax of our meditation on our Lord’s Passion: His Crucifixion on Mt. Calvary. Considering the stupendous power that our Lord manifested during His public ministry prior to His Passion, we might have gotten the impression that death was a matter of little concern to Him. Perhaps we imagine that His death was not the same catastrophe that it would be for us. After all, we know that He will rise again on the third day. If everything is going to turn out all right in the end, what is there to get so upset about? The First Sorrowful Mystery, the Agony in the Garden, begins to dispel this impression. There our Lord prays, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus is so moved at the agony approaching Him that He wishes He could be delivered from this overwhelming evil.
When the time to endure this ultimate evil has come, our Lord lifts up His voice to the Father once more in a tone of woeful lamentation: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Any lingering doubts we might have experienced about the gravity of this situation are now definitively silenced: without question, Jesus’ death on the cross was unspeakably bitter. From this we learn that God Himself condescended to share in the burden of our suffering. He did not want us to be alone; He Himself wanted to suffer with us, and for us. God knows that the world is a sorrowful place. Sometimes this is a truth which is difficult for us to acknowledge. Sometimes we would rather bury our heads in the sand and choose not to consider the cry of the poor, and the blood of Abel which cries out from the earth. But the passion of Jesus on the cross prevents this. If, in the hardness of our hearts, we find it difficult to acknowledge the misery of the human condition, by contemplating our Lord’s bitter death on the cross, a way is prepared in our hearts to be open to the suffering of the poor. In Jesus we have the courage to be compassionate, because in Jesus we know that suffering is not the final chapter to the story. The final chapter to His story is His glorious resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven, to be in eternal blessedness with His Father. If we faithfully receive His sorrowful passion into our hearts, this will be the final chapter of our story as well.
Br. Athanasius Thompson, O.P. | Meet the Student Brothers in Formation HERE