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When Jesus explained to St. Catherine how to love him with great love


Clemente De Torres | Public Domain via Wikipedia

Archbishop Juan José Omella - published on 04/12/17

The cross is a mystery we cannot understand, but these 3 paths will bring us closer.

The truth is, it is difficult for us to understand the mystery of the Cross, of suffering, of sorrow. But it is beautiful in Scripture to see Abraham leading his son to Mount Moriah, obeying the Lord’s command. And he does it for love of God, while loving his son dearly as well.

Christ nailed to the Cross is also a mystery of love. He has loved us to the point of the madness of the Cross. Dying, he gave us the very life of God. Rising from the dead, he made us rise with Him. And ascending into heaven, he has prepared a place at his side with all the saints.

Could he give us anything more?

God’s love for us human beings is impressive! The truth is, with nothing but our own strength, we would never be able to understand fully the mystery of God’s love for each and every one of us. And, nonetheless, that love is the only thing that can give meaning to a restless and confused human heart.

The Church, during these days of Holy Week, invites us in a special way to understand this love more deeply by lovingly contemplating the Cross:

Following the path of dialogue with Christ crucified 

For many people, it is initially difficult and tiring to engage in dialogue with Christ. Thomas à Kempis offers us an enlightening reflection, which is very helpful.

He says: “If you don’t know how to meditate on lofty and celestial things, dwell on the passion of Christ, and stop to contemplate his sacred wounds, as if abiding in them. Because if you devoutly take refuge in these scars and precious wounds of Jesus, you will feel great strength in affliction, the contempt of men will not affect you, and you will bear easily the words of those who speak against you.”(Thomas à Kempis, Book 2, ch. 1, No. 16-17)

Following the path of the cross

Why pray the Stations of the Cross, with simplicity and profound veneration? Your heart will gradually fill itself with peace, calm, hope, love, and forgiveness.

Praying the Way of the Cross, meditating on the Passion of the Lord, demands a bit of time. Can we not dedicate a few minutes to this daily—to praying at least two stations each day, even though it will take us a whole week to finish? We only need to make the decision and stick to it firmly; perhaps we’ll have to turn off the television at an opportune time, or not delay unnecessarily in other conversations, in order to be able to dedicate in this way some time to being alone with the Lord.

Following the path of service to those who suffer

From this serene and loving meditation on the Passion, will arise—I am convinced—a growing desire to help the suffering brother or sister who is at our side.

This is how the saints have lived Holy Week.

This is also how Saint Catherine of Siena lived it, as this beautiful text shows:

Jesus asked Catherine of Siena, “My beloved, do you know why I love you?” In response to Catherine’s negative reply, Jesus continued, “I will tell you. If I cease to love you, you will be nothing; you will be incapable of anything good. Now you see why I have to love you.” “It is true,” Catherine replied, and suddenly she said, “I would like to love you like that.” But as soon as she had spoken, she realized that what she had said was inappropriate. Jesus smiled. Then, she added, “But this is not fair. You can love me with great love, and I can only love you with small love.” At that moment, Jesus interrupted, and said, “I have made it possible for you to love me with great love.” Surprised, she immediately asked Him how. “I have placed your neighbor at your side. Whatever you do to him, I will consider it as being done to me.” Catherine, full of joy, went running to care for the sick in the hospital: “Now I can love Jesus with great love.”

May the contemplation of the Passion of Christ help us to commit ourselves more to helping our brothers and sisters who suffer in this world, and especially those who are near to us. Because at our side, in this place, on this altar, Christ, as he was on Mount Tabor and during the Passion, shall become mysteriously present: his Body, given up for us; his blood, shed for us—the Risen Lord.

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