From Thomas A’ Kempis, “On the Passion of Christ”
Go, stand beside Mary next to the Cross, and with sadness of heart meditate on Jesus’ death. Observe how Jesus, who is innocent, dies naked and like an outcast. Never was there a man more wretched than he! There was never anyone more beloved by God, nor anyone more despised by men than Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified by his own people.
Notice the gratitude that the world shows him in return for all of his extraordinary deeds and miracles. He is put to death as if he were the worst of thieves and dies as the poorest of men. He does not die in a comfortable feather bed, but on the hard wood of the cross; not in a house or under a protecting roof, but in the open air, in a frightfully foul place; not in a private room, but publicly on a Cross; not in the company of his disciples, but between two thieves; not in the arms of his loving mother, but between those of a tall Cross.
He did not even have a few handfuls of straw beneath him, nor over him a covering of the poorest linen. He had no pillow for his head, but a crown of sharp thorns instead. There were no sandals on his feet nor gloves on his hands, but as substitutes he had iron nails that pierced through his flesh and bones…
…Who is this who cries out with his final breath? How distinguished he must be at whose passing both heaven and earth mourn, from whose sight death flees, at whose voice the dead rise, at whose visage the gates of death are shattered, whose presence the devil cannot endure, whose power no one can resist, before whom hell trembles and heaven worships, whom the angels serve and the archangels obey…
…The centurion who was standing there remarked: Truly, he was the Son of God. That blessed man, upon seeing that Jesus gave up his spirit after he had cried out, discerned the hidden divinity within that human nature and immediately acknowledged that he, whom his own people had crucified, was the Son of God.
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