March 9, 2001
volume 12, no. 68

"If I Be Lifted Up..."

    Most people, I think, are good-hearted.

    I believe that most people, should they see someone injured on the street, for example, would do something to help - call an ambulance - stop traffic - something! Would there be the passers-by who would not care? Of course!

    Would there be the hard-hearted who would become angry for inconvenience caused them by a tie-up? Of course!

    I still believe, however, that most people would have compassion on a suffering person and would try to assist in some way. How could a normal human being see the great affliction of another and not have compassion?

    Jesus had at least three reasons for choosing the great suffering of His Passion to redeem us.

    The first reason was to show us how much He loves us. ďGreater love than this, no one has that he lay down his life for his friendĒ (John 15:13).

    The second reason was to show us how terrible sin is. How could we consider His sufferings and think that any sin is insignificant?

    There is yet a third reason for Our Lordís sufferings. He wants our love in return. Jesus said: ďIf I be lifted up, I will draw all men to MyselfĒ (John 12:32).

    How can we, as normal human beings, consider Jesus on the cross - giving the last drop of His blood - struggling to breathe - bruised - derided - hanging - dying and not have compassion - sympathy? Is it possible? Is it probable? I think - not likely! The important element, however, is that we must consider; we must take time to contemplate Jesus on the cross; we must look upon Him, either in our mindís eye or with the help of outward images and truly consider what He endured so that we could be in Heaven with Him forever.

    Though we should OFTEN consider the supreme sacrifice of Jesus, Lent is a most appropriate time to do so. Making the Stations of the Cross at least once a week would be of great help. It would be wonderful if people could make the Stations at home, as a family, with the assistance of pictures and prayers.

    Wonderful videos have been produced in recent years that portray Our Lordís Passion. Why not rent those videos and view them NOW so that the memory of Our Lordís sufferings can better be carried throughout Lent?

    There is not a better one out there than Franco Zeffirelli's production of "Jesus of Nazareth" which entails three tapes and should be available at your neighborhood video store. If any one has ever captured the essence of Who Jesus was in His humanity it is the actor who portrays Him - Robert Powell. It is a star-studded cast that blends into a veritable account that closely follows Catholic scripture and reverence. I believe it will truly touch you and help you to better meditate on the Passion and Death of Christ not only during Lent but everyday.

    Then, of course, there are so many wonderful books available about the sufferings of Jesus. First of all Holy Scripture is paramount. Other reading materials that come to mind readily are "Doctor at Calvary" and Archbishop Fulton J. Sheenís "The Life of Christ." Of course, anything by this powerful prelate I would recommend. There is also the excellent treasure by Thomas a Kempis "Imitation of Christ."

    I must confess, however, that the account which moved me most powerfully, aside from the Scriptures, is Volume 5 of "Poem of the Man-God" as given to Maria Valtorta. No book has aided my prayer-life more and moved me to bitter tears over the sufferings of Our Lord than this book. Even Pope Pius XII said that those who read "Poem of the Man-God" will understand. It grieves me deeply that certain notables, who have not read the book by their own admissions, have unjustly spoken ill of it. Thousands of people have been converted because of "Poem of the Man-God."

    Satan NEVER brings people to conversion, to God. He is Godís archenemy and would never bring people to love God more.

    So, dear reader, be open to considering the sufferings of Jesus in depth. In those considerations you will come to understand more deeply the love that God has for YOU! In return you will want to love Him more. God bless you!

Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

For past columns by Sister Lucy, see GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER Archives

March 9, 2001
volume 12, no. 68
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