II. The Passion of Jesus (Second Day)
LET us contemplate Jesus in His Passion. "And He came out and went as He was wont to the Mount of Olives; and His disciples followed Him. And when He was at the place, He said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast and kneeled down and prayed saying: Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me, nevertheless, not My Will but Thine be done. And there appeared an Angel unto Him from Heaven strengthening Him. And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood." "They took Jesus and led Him away. And He bearing His Cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull which is called Golgotha where they crucified Him, and Pilate wrote a title and put it on the Cross, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." "And [76/77] Jesus knowing all things were now accomplished......saith, I thirst." Also S. John xx. 28-35.
Lord Jesus, look upon us Thy faithless children; we bewail our lack of trust, our faithlessness; we have not trusted Thy love, Lord Jesus, we have not trusted in Thy power; being in darkness we refused Thy light--not once refused Thee, but often, because of our faithlessness. Pour out upon us Thy Holy Spirit that with our whole hearts we may trust Thee, trust without question what Thou givest! Jesus, my Jesus, I can give Thee nothing, I can offer Thee nothing, no faithfulness, no goodness, no true fruits of penitence. I am full of sin, weakness, dullness and lovelessness. But, Lord Jesus, Thou art Love, Joy, Peace; and in Thee have I put my trust. O Saviour of the world, Who by Thy Cross and precious Blood hast redeemed us, save us and help us, we humbly beseech Thee, good Lord. Amen.
JESUS IN HIS PASSION
Let us meditate this morning on the Passion as it gives us our true point of view. I suppose that we all admit that what has been wrong with the world from the beginning, what has been fundamentally wrong, is that man has got hold of the wrong point of view, and has looked out upon his own life, and through his own life upon mankind, from the wrong standpoint. All the philosophers from the beginning have been reaching out to the right point of view, that they might themselves secure it and shew it to others. And it is absolutely true that no philosopher has yet found the true, the perfect standpoint. It was revealed to us through no philosopher, through no learned words, through no learned theory--it is merely the simple story of the life of the Son of Mary. The Cross and the Crucified are the perfect and unchanging revelation of the standpoint man must take up if he would understand God, the world, and himself. It comes with a shock, doesn't [78/79] it? Think how the adoption of this true standpoint would affect London to-day, London, the very centre of modern activity and modern thought, where we live surrounded by philosophers, prophets and teachers, political, moral, scientific, who all claim to interpret life and scheme to find methods for the redemption of mankind. What a change there would be ii all these would confess that it is Jesus, and Jesus Crucified, in Whose face alone we can see God!
Let us meditate, then, on the Passion, until it becomes clear to our minds that it is only in contemplation of the Passion that we can understand God and the world, the people in the world, and ourselves. This is the supreme revelation. We must leave behind our own views of things, our own judgments of ourselves, our own thoughts of the way in which we suppose that God will treat us, or does treat us; leave behind our values of the world, of the things of sense; leave behind us our own opinion about God's love and God's pity and God's anger, and just contemplate Jesus and Him crucified. I believe in Jesus Christ the only-begotten [79/80] Son of God, Who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.
Let us meditate on the Passion as the point of view from which to measure the Father's love. We get into a habit of thinking that, after all, people like Tennyson were probably right when they speak to us of the cruelty of nature. In our shallow judgments of the hardship and troubles that come, if not to us, at least to other people, we accept the general hopelessness, and social troubles make us doubt the Father's love. Yet all we absolutely know clearly about the Father's love is that on the Cross the Heart of Jesus, Who is the Incarnation of the Divine Love, was pierced by a spear for our sake, and for the sake of men. We know nothing clearly about nature, we can guess nothing as to the inner meaning of natural laws; we know very little indeed about the relation between suffering and holiness; we know very little indeed about God's ultimate purpose behind all social problems; still less do we know about sin and the probable power of sin in resistance of God's love. One thing is shewn to us, His children, [80/81] with absolute clearness, on which we can stake everything we have: God of God, for our sake, for our salvation came down from Heaven, was crucified, dead and buried. There is the Father's love, then, made absolutely clear, apart from all problems: there is the eternal truth about God and God's love.
Starting from this, I come first to the truth that whatever is in the world of pain and suffering and sorrow, in fact all that goes against what we call human happiness, is on one side, and God is on the other. God stands over against those things and looks upon them with that sadness with which a Creator must look upon His marred creation. I know that, from the standpoint of the Passion, God is on my side. God is my Father and I am His child. Looking out over this world of suffering He bids me come with Him into the very midst of it. He says to me: "Now, My son, look, this is the world I made, and this is the world you men have ruined. The world must come straight some day, the world must be redeemed, and you, My son, must choose. Are you ready to take your stand by your [81/82] Father's side and to throw yourself into the midst of this suffering world and to take all the suffering and pain that comes to you as a true son of your Father? Are you ready to accept suffering, to endure it, and yet all the while cling to Me, and trust Me, to justify Me and to vindicate My righteousness and love? Are you ready? Or will you do what the world does--curse Me and make out that it is all My fault?" And I answer Him--what shall I answer Him? I am troubled and puzzled, and in suffering. I look up, and all I can say is, "I believe in Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made: Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified." That is the love I see and upon that love I rest. Gladly I let my Father lead me into the thickest part of suffering, gladly let Him hide Himself from me, gladly let the [82/83] clouds pass as between me and Him. Indeed I feel the waves pass over me: and yet, in the sight of Angels and of devils and of men, in my heart I keep my faith and confidence in my Father's love. My faith and my trust become really and truly redemptive powers, not only redeeming my life, but redemptive in the lives of other people. For in my heart there is found a secret point of contact between the Father Who made the world and the world that needs the Father's power.
But is that in fact the way we think of the Father's love? Is that our standpoint? Meditate on it. Contemplate Jesus, and let us remember that in as far as Jesus is Man there is no difference between His circumstances and yours and mine. Gethsemane needs no olive trees to make it Gethsemane, needs no band of disciples gathered round the gates, no band of priests and soldiers to give it its reality. Gethsemane needs only one thing: it requires a world hostile to God, in whatever form it shews itself to you, and your head bowed to accept the inevitable suffering, your heart filled with trust in the hidden Father--that is all.
 Whether it is due to our own sins and our temptations that we are in trouble, or whether it is due to friends or relations that we are moved to anxiety, whether it is the real battle against the world that we are fighting, whether it is suffering of mind or body, whether it is the pressure of external circumstances that makes us anxious--whatever it is, we know that it is not our Father's Will that these things should come upon us. Yet we know that since they have come upon us inevitably, because of the world's sins, we must brace ourselves and bear all that comes--it is our Father's Will that we should trust Him. Isn't it clear, so clear? And we must keep this ideal, though, God knows, it is hard enough in practice. Therefore we must in our prayer to-day keep out all doubt and despondency. What can one say to a desponding soul? What more could God do? There are times, aren't there, when we get into a state of mind is which it would seem that God would have to devise for us some new system of salvation, so utterly desponding do we get. But it is our own fault, it is really and truly our own fault' that we cannot [84/85] become simple, cannot believe, cannot be certain that Eternal Love is for us, that the Father's love is the eternal fact of the universe.
As we gaze upon Jesus crucified let us meditate a little upon the ways of God as they are unlike our ways. The Love of God is so different from what we call love. Let us meditate upon that a little, it may help us. God Himself sacrifices Himself, even to the death of the Cross. That is startling, and we need to weigh it. Because one of the puzzling things in life is that God's power over people seems so limited. We see people resisting God, or we think we do. We imagine that when we begin to pray for people, that at once, or after a little time, such an answer to prayer will come as will agree with our own views about God's Love. And if the answer doesn't come, we get troubled, we think that perhaps we aren't worthy to pray, that it is our own fault. Or perhaps we think, we are tempted to think, that God's arm is shortened and that it cannot save.
Well now, we ought to get a juster view of the Charity of God. We ought to [85/86] understand that our good God, our Father can alone be trusted to know what is best for each one of us. We know the mercy of the Father, and we ought to be able to believe that if, in any way, the Father can draw out of a soul, in the most secret way, the least desire to be saved, He can do something with that soul beyond the grave. We must give up distrusting God. What a terrible thing it is that God, for these two thousand years, has looked into the Face of the Son of Mary, looked upon the Manhood of the Eternal Son, and watched daily the marks of the Passion; that these two thousand years He has been waiting and receiving momentarily the Holy Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Calvary; and that yet He looks down on us and finds us doubting! The way out for us, the way back to hopefulness and faith, is not to meditate on our own unworthiness, our own unfaithfulness, our own ingratitude, our own blindness--but on Love crucified. If a child comes to me and says: "I am really sorry because I have not been treating you properly," I don't want to go into the reasons why he didn't trust me: he has come to me, [86/87] and I have got hold of him, and we begin from that moment a new life of mutual trust. So does God treat us. "Let the dead bury their dead, but follow thou Me."
Again, from the Passion we get the point of view from which to regard other people; the point of view from which we judge others, estimate others, and give to each one his or her value. For most of us, I suppose, a great deal of our life has been spent in trying to learn to "judge not," and as a commandment to be kept it is quite extraordinarily hard! "Judge not and ye shall not be judged." What we really need is an ideal--not one that we shall attain here, perhaps, but an ideal at which we shall always aim, and by which we shall examine ourselves. My neighbours are uninteresting enough; they bore me; their weak spots are quite evident; their sins obtrude themselves on my notice. And I, equally fallible, desire to pry into their motives and judge them. I need an ideal of love, because I have to live with these neighbours in the Charity of God beyond the grave; and I want to learn to do it here. Therefore I [87/88] look up to the Cross, and I see the value that each soul has to Jesus: "God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." The Son of God Who loves my neighbour gave Himself for my neighbour--there then is the value of his soul to Jesus. And following upon that, I am bound to confess to myself that the Body and Blood of Jesus received by so many of my neighbours, lift them up to a level far above my power of judging. If I could see Jesus with my eyes, if I could see Him come into the room, and out of a room full of people select one and take that one to be His companion for the day, shouldn't I understand the value of that soul? And if I had any respect for Jesus, shouldn't I know that I ought to shut my mind against any feeling of jealousy, or any depreciation of that soul? That is the kind of ideal I want to get, to correct in me the tendency to be unkind by the vision of Jesus choosing out a soul to be His own companion. And if the soul refuses and rejects Him, yet He follows it to woo it to Himself, trying to draw it to [88/89] Himself, just as he does with the heathen soul. This is the ideal we learn from the Passion. You cannot hold the Feet of Jesus on His Cross, you cannot really give Him what He wants from you, unless you are prepared to let Him value the souls of other people for you.
Now in Retreat, those of us who have got any, the least, difficulty with other people--relations, friends, fellow-workers--if we have any difficulty which stands in the way of perfect charity then in prayer to-day let us get it right. You will go--I am going--to the Crucifix. I am going to give my heart to the Heart of Jesus, and to find a place in my heart for whoever it is who hurts me, a place corresponding to the place in the Heart of Jesus which that person already fills.
And may I urge that from the Passion we gain our true ideal of our relations with other people, because in everybody who comes into our life there is the right to make a claim upon us, a right they have received from Jesus, the Crucified Jesus? The human race belongs to Jesus, to Jesus Who is its King, and the human race is in need, and one by one Jesus sends [89/90] to us His people, Christian and pagan: He sends them to us, each one with a need that Jesus means us in some way to meet. This is the underlying truth in all Christian work and Christian service. It is that kind of vision that helps us in our homes, in our work in the world, and in our work for the Church. And little by little (it is a very slow process), little by little, the Veil that hides Jesus fades, and more and more the sense of the Presence of Jesus in daily life comes home to us. We feel, as it were, the pressure of the Hand of Jesus. Thirdly and lastly, let us meditate on what the Passion teaches us about the value of earthly things, the outside world, and creatures other than human. It is necessary that in thinking of God's creatures we should think in a balanced way. The first instinct of a converted soul is to regard most things as wicked, everything as essentially evil and to be avoided. And of course in so far as a soul is carrying out the counsels of our Lord Jesus and cutting off a right hand and plucking out an eye, he is in some ways right. But if a converted soul really believes the world is in itself evil, he is [90/91] unbalanced; and the result will be that he will give a wrong explanation of God and of God's creatures. The Passion teaches us better than that. We lift up our eyes to the Cross, and at once we understand the danger of the world; we understand the sin that is in the world, for the ' Crucified reveals it. If you have learnt that the things that are in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, the pride of life, did actually conspire together to crucify God that is a sufficient warning of the power and danger of the world. But the true message is this: That God came to redeem His creatures,, and that the world is capable of redemption--and it is upon that we ought to lay all our stress, all our emphasis. You individually must share in the world's redemption. That the world is capable of redemption, and therefore is meant to be used by Christians, there can be no doubt, since Jesus died to redeem it.
It is a beautiful, if a common thought, that our Lord Jesus passed through the ordinary human experiences of life, the ordinary working man's life, in close touch with the things of this world in [91/92] order that He might redeem it; that everything that the Hand of the Incarnate touched became alive to the Glory of God, and everything that the Incarnate took into close touch with His Manhood became redeemed. Thus His Mystical Bride, the Church, of which you and I are living parts, must move through His own world doing for her Spouse in the world what He would do. That which on earth He did Himself the Mystic Bride moves to do, and whatever she touches in faith, lives in Him, is redeemed, is transformed. Remember, the Mystic Bride prepares the way for the restitution of all things. What we have to understand is that what is human is not in itself wrong. You find Christians who stand off from the ordinary pleasures of social life. But why should we? Social life becomes hideous at times when used by pagans and bad Christians, but it is capable of redemption. You find people who are frightened of nature, frightened at the beauties that are in nature. Why should they be? I am not speaking of persons with a special vocation to this or that--I am speaking of ordinary Christians. We ought to look [92/93] upon the world as capable of redemption and ourselves as linked with the Redeemer, and so linked with Him we may take our ordinary share in life and be careful that what we touch we touch in faith and with the power of redeeming it.
And lastly, we have to become indifferent to these things. It is difficult to explain. It doesn't mean to be loveless, hard and cold; but it does mean that in our attitude towards the things of sense, to the things of the world, we are so engrossed by Him Who made them, that if for any reason this or that thing is taken away from us, whatever disturbance it makes in us is merely on the surface, and deep down in our hearts we have learned really not to care. This is what the Passion teaches us about the things concerning Creation. No one was less indifferent than Jesus, no love burned more fiercely than the Divine Love in the heart of Jesus, and yet the Passion is one long study in the art of being indifferent. To part with everything as Jesus did, with His friends, with His own Mother, with His beloved friend, with all His earthly possessions; to hang naked upon the Cross; to surrender bodily life; [93/94] to surrender what you and I would call human happiness and peace; and enter into unspeakable, unthinkable pain of body and soul; and yet deep down in His Inner Self, in spite of the pain and the Cross, to be absolutely content, that is true indifference.
The Passion teaches us all these things. But the important thing is, that we should think of the Father's Love and Pity working; that out of our hearts to-day we draw and throw away despondency and despair. Whether we can speak to Him or whether we are dumb, whether we can put into words what we feel, whether we can conjure up feelings that we think can be worthy or not, we must cast ourselves before Him, because in His Love He brought us to His Feet; and very hungry and thirsty we must wait upon Him giving nothing, simply waiting. For "He filleth the hungry with good things."
LET us contemplate Eternal Love: Eternal Love in the threefold nature of the Godhead.
Let us contemplate Eternal Love in the power of the Spirit, seeking entrance into the hearts of men and always being refused.
Let us contemplate Eternal Love in thc power of the Spirit, winning Mary to acceptance, and taking flesh of Mary.
Let us contemplate Eternal Love reaching the highest point of expression on the Cross: "God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
Contemplate the chosen ones of Jesus, who have learned to love with His love--the Martyrs, the great Saints of the Church, each one yielding himself or herself and reaching to the highest expression of love that endures unto death.
 Contemplate them in Heaven to-day, kneeling round the steps of the Throne of Jesus.
O my God, I believe in Thee, Eternal Love. I believe for love of me Thou hast created me and that out of love for me Thou hast left me to suffer. I believe that out of love for me, Thou hast left me in darkness. Out of love for me, Thou hast left me to be a burden to myself. O my Father, relying on Jesus Crucified, I believe in Thee, in Thy love, in Thy pity, in Thy Wisdom. O my Father, I am nothing, I have nothing, and to-day, Lord Jesus, I desire nothing but to fulfil Thy Will. Give me Thy Love. With Thy Grace I am rich enough. My Father, leave me in the Hand of Jesus Crucified; let His Grace be in me; let His Love enfold me, and in Thy Wisdom punish me and forgive me according to Thy Will.
Lord, one hour of watching,
Lord, one hour of darkness,
Lord, one hour of anguish,
And eternity of joy.
THE PASSION THE FRUIT OF LOVE
Let us meditate upon the Passion as it is the true development, the right and proper fruit of true love. The Incarnate Love was never so much Himself in the fullness of His expression and manifestation as in the moment of His Death. The unchangeable Word of God, taking to Himself a human form and entering into human experience, and expressing Himself in human language, on a human level, develops His outward expression of Himself until it requires Calvary's Cross!
The difference between the Babe on the knees of His Mother and the Man hanging on the Cross, from this point of view, is a difference of self-expression. There is growth of His Manhood. He found Himself, if we may reverently use the word, He found His highest development as Man in the moment of His Death. Now that of course is a paradox, and it cuts right across what we in this generation a [97/98] would call self-development. The idea of this generation is free self-development. We are all for liberty of action, of complete independence: leave me to myself and let me make the most of my life. This is profoundly untrue, the exact opposite of the truth. The truth is: Take me out of myself, take me utterly out of myself, and let me lose myself in the Divine Love, and I become perfect man.
And the first point that I would submit to you is this. There is a conflict between God and the world. It is a conflict between Love and self-will. The Eternal One is in controversy with His people. Who is He? Can we name Him? Love, the Eternal Love! And with whom is He in controversy? With His own children: children created in His own Image and Likeness, to whom He has imparted that mysterious gift of free-will. And the controversy is of the evil use that they make of that free-will; the controversy ultimately is of the goal that they set before themselves; the controversy is of their idea of growth and development. How do they ultimately realize themselves in God or apart from God? God, the good [98/99] Father in Heaven, limits His own power over us His children. This we must think out. Such is the reverence of God for His own children that, unlike us, He is strong enough and loving enough to hold His Hand, He will not interfere with their ultimate choice. He will give them warnings without number; influence He will exercise up to a certain point; but there comes a point beyond which our Father will not go in interference, lest He should seem to despise His child. The Father always respects His child's freewill, and there we have a great and deep problem into which we need not go. From the beginning of things there is Love watching the child, Love reverencing the child, and the free-will of His child, and waiting for the child to make the right choice.
In the second place this: Eternal Love, although self-limited, is Almighty, and holds all things in His Hands. The almighty power of Love does interfere with the external side of the child's life in all mercy and pitifulness. Almighty Love does interfere, does modify the circumstances of the child's life. Without a [99/100] shadow of doubt the Father's Love does modify the result of the child's act and .choice, over and over again, but not to the point of robbing him of his freedom, not to the point of saving him from some of the results of his evil choices. To do that would be to depreciate the Father's Love; to do that would be to blind the child. Without doubt Almighty Love does modify temptation, does in various ways lighten the load to the child. He is always near, though hidden and unthanked--and un-thanked He moves and works--unthought of, the Father's Love moves and works, and that right through life. And the power is most visible as life draws to its close. It is in the moment of death that the Almighty Power has its fullest work, for it is in the moment of death that the Almighty sets the soul free from the body which has been linked with sin, free from those circumstances that have poisoned the child's whole thought about its Father. In a moment Almighty Power sets the soul free, sets it face to face with the Father's Love for the last great appeal, and there, in the moment of death, God finds the moment of miracle.
You remember, some of you, in The Ring and the Book, the Pope's great speech when as judge he signs the death warrant for the murderer's death, and how, in spite of the murderer's black record, the unspeakable cruelty and bestiality of the man, he does it in the certain hope that in the moment of death, when Almighty Power holds the soul as for a second free from all that had been the circumstances of sin, Guido shall see the truth.
Then thirdly, we ask this: What is the nature of this limited power that the Father exercises over His child, over the inner soul of His child? He limits His Power for the honour of the child, lest He should force it. What is the nature of the force that Eternal Love puts out as we watch Him at work? And I suppose in reply we can say quite truly this: That first of all there is Love's great appeal--the Passion. The Passion is the appeal which every man who meets it must take notice of. The Crucified sends His Voice down the ages and it falls on the ears of the children of God: "Come unto Me;--Behold and see if there be any sorrow like [101/102] unto My sorrow." So God loved the world--so God loves you. "Son, give me thine heart."
There is the great appeal of Love. And remember, it is on the Father's side; it is not an historical appeal only; it is a present appeal; for He Who died, lives, and the appeal is made not only through the senses, not only through the Crucifix, not only through the story of the Passion, not only through memory: it is made by the mystical approach of Jesus in grace to the soul of the sinner. It is set forth to the senses, to the imagination, to the mind and to the heart; every time that Holy Mass is said we do set forth the Lord's Death till He come. And there is the appeal of Love with all its force and its power, and you know its enormous force. I have known Africans walk for something like five hours on a Saturday night in order that they may be at Mass on Sunday morning, for the simple reason, as they put it: "If the Lord Christ was coming to meet them they could not stay away."
The appeal of Love--this first. Love makes its appeal. But also Love creates [102/103] the atmosphere in which the children can more or less safely exercise their free-will and their choice. It is to the making of that atmosphere that the lives of the Saints and of the Martyrs go. Everybody who becomes a child of God in Baptism has a chance, or is meant by the Father to have a chance, of breathing in an atmosphere of Love, such as the great Saints stand for. Is not that a force? Might it not be a great power? Is it the Father's fault that it is very little of a power? We feel it, don't we? Perhaps we have come to feel it since we have grown up, but we know for ourselves that we do live in an atmosphere of Divine Love. We know it; and God has meant it to be a real force even here in a city like London.
Then there is the great force of Love's Life that is imparted to us. There is the whole of the Sacramental Life in which Love feeds us, verily and truly, with Himself. There are many other ways no doubt, but these stand out, and as you meditate, as you get alone in prayer with the Almighty Power that holds your life in His Hand, as you pray to that Almighty [103/104] Power that moulds your life, yet does not overcome you, if you fear that He is too limited, you will come to see for yourselves that the limited power is sufficient. For those who hold by Him, who give up their hearts to His appeal of Love, are with Angels and Archangels and all the Company of Heaven, with Mary our Mother, with the great Apostles, the Martyrs, the Virgins, the Holy Saints, the monks, the nuns, the holy matrons, with all who down the ages make this atmosphere in which we live. It closes round us and becomes our known experience of Jesus and His life-giving Love. Such is the self-limited Power of God!
Now what follows? This follows. That you and I are needed by our Blessed Lord to swell the volume of the appeal of Love; we are needed to widen the atmosphere of Love. This is the ordinary vocation of every Christian soul. If it be true that in Heaven at this moment our Lord Jesus Christ reigns surrounded by His Saints; if it be true that His Heart is the unifying Power drawing into Itself all the love that they ever loved and all the sacrifice that they ever offered to the Father, drawing [104/105] it to Himself; if He offers it in adoration and worship to the Eternal God and sends it out again into the world for our conversion and strengthening; then without doubt He is waiting for our co-operation, waiting and looking for a similar offering of love and sacrifice that is to come from us in this world, from this city of sin in which we live. Jesus on His Throne looks to each one of us for our share in the offering; and it is in the moment in which a man or woman comes to realize this as the essential fact of life that the true peace of God passes upon the soul: "My Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you,"
Again, the Love that Jesus asks from us must shew itself in sacrifice; it only becomes perfect through sacrifice. God's Love, as it is known to us, is all sacrifice, joyful happy sacrifice. The Eternal Love is eternal sacrifice. Of course it is difficult to say much without getting into metaphysics. The vision that we have now and again in our prayer on such Feasts as Trinity Sunday, when we are contemplating the Blessed Trinity, we cannot put [105/106] into words, we cannot write down. I should be very sorry to have to explain it. But we have a sort of vision of the eternal relationship between the Father and the Eternal Son. We know the Eternal Son has no existence apart from the Father. Always He is receiving all that He is from His Father. Thus it is that the Father reproduces Himself in the Eternal Son. It is sacrifice, the joyful giving of self, the pouring out the whole of Himself. So that if you ask a theologian the essential difference between the Father and the Son, he answers you that their Godhead is one and equal, but the Father is ever conscious of giving; and the Son is ever conscious of receiving, yet Both are Eternal. It is a mystery we cannot understand, but the point is that Eternal Love is Eternal Sacrifice--joyful and happy.
Pass on to this for a moment. Eternal Love touches man the moment that Eternal Love takes His supreme place amongst His own creatures through Manhood. And when Eternal Love touches sin and the sinful race, His sacrifice is tinged with sorrow. The human love of [106/107] Jesus, inasmuch as it is the expression of Divine Love, is sacrifice. This sacrifice is not, in the human sense, joyful: it is painful. It involves Him in death and darkness of soul; and yet it is through the darkness and through the death that Jesus comes to the expression of His highest Manhood, by His perfect human self-sacrifice. He learnt obedience through the things which He suffered. He became obedient unto death. "Therefore God highly exalted Him and hath given Him a Name which is above every other name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow."
Thus for us, too, it is perfectly clear that love comes to perfection only in sacrifice. Think of typical kinds of love. Take first the married love. Is there any doubt that the most beautiful form of human love, the form of human love most nearly representing to us the Father's love, is that of a true mother? Love, true human love, finding its self-expression in sacrifice and in pain through marriage, is the self-sacrifice of the mother or father. A mother attains through her self-sacrifice a form of saintliness which is beyond our words to [107/108] express. You know as well as I do that in the slums of London there are sacrificial forms of love that are not unworthy to be ranked with the sacrifices of the great saints. Ordinary human beings pass, by the way of love, into sacrifice, and so attain self-realization and the full development of self.
Or take a thing like the Religious Life and, though on entirely different lines, you arrive at the same results. There you have a man or woman through pure love of our Lord forming an alliance with Him in a special way. You watch the soul newly espoused to the Bridegroom, and you watch the Bridegroom as He leads that soul through manifold paths of painful searching, as He looses upon the soul temptations and the burden of trial, the burden of its obedience, the burden of sin and the realization of sin within its own soul and in the world, until the life becomes a living sacrifice of love, and the religious soul finds its perfection in that particular sacrificial love. And it is true of you and of me. We each in our own vocation have to learn from the Passion to look for our true self-development in a love [108/109] that is content to suffer, that looks to sacrifice as the perfect way towards self-development.
Now please do not for a moment think that when we use the word sacrifice we mean that everybody has to go and look for some place or circumstances that are extraordinarily uncomfortable. Not that at all. When our Lord calls me to sacrifice and to love He wants it, probably, here in the very circumstances in which I am already living my life. The tendency at once to get up and look for some other place and some other surroundings is shallow: at the best we can only say it is generous.
Then, practically, and in conclusion, may I say one or two things? Let me state it in the first person. I need more and more to make up my mind, as I look out upon this wilderness of unlove, this hard world, to plunge right into it, and in the midst of the unlove to bring God's Love that is in my soul to bear upon all my circumstances.
Or think about it in this way. I sit here conscious of all the things that seem to shut out God from me, conscious of all [109/110] the difficulties of the spiritual life, conscious of the claims of the world upon me, of its influence within me, and I feel that it is no good, that I shall never be any different from what I am. Well now, into this heart of mine I am going to receive the fellowship of suffering from Him Who offers it to me: into this heart that has a conscious knowledge of unlove, I am going to receive from Him Who offers it to me, the fellowship of sanctified love. I give myself to be the victim of unlove, to be the victim of all that is contrary to peace and happiness, as I count peace and happiness, and in the power of the Love of Jesus, in the power of this sacrificial life, I surrender myself to be a living, suffering link between the unlove of the world and the hidden yet conquering Love of the Father.
Whatever I was before the Retreat, whatever there was in me to be set aside in my life at home, in my life outside my home, in my life in secret with Jesus, in my life in the Church, in the world, whatever there was of life of which I hadn't found the meaning, whatever there was that still exercised over me a power of evil, [110/111] a power of despair, a power of despondency--that now, in this moment, I defy. I defy it, not in the sense that it will never, never fascinate me again, but I defy it in the sense that it shall never, never conquer me again. God shews me that He needs me to endure all that, because He wants to enlarge the atmosphere of Sacrificial Love: He wants to send resounding out the appeal of Sacrificial Love.
Do you suppose the martyrs looked to Jesus to take away their sufferings from them? Have you ever thought what their martyrdom meant? You read stories of their martyrdoms, and the authors tell you that they seemed to have a strange power of not feeling pain in the moment of their deaths. Have you ever thought what it meant--of the days and days of practical torture in those old Roman prisons, of the absolute uncertainty in their minds as to their fate and of what would become of their bodies? If you think of the awful physical suffering and the quite unthinkable tortures of mind, you will see that if in the hour of death they had a strange ecstasy from above, it was because they had endured to the end--they [112/113] had not wanted to escape. God gave them sufficient strength to respond to Him each moment up to their death. And they died in peace. Well now, why, why should you and I expect a lighter burden when we expect an equal crown?
Let us, then, determine to-day that we will be ready to experience any kind of spiritual difficulty that God allows to come upon us in the way of temptations, of darkness, or of assaults upon our faith and our personal trust in God's Providence. All that we shall be content to endure and face, because we do want, so far as God can trust us, to be used by Him to increase the great volume of faith in Him which is needed to swell this witness to His Love. When God is looking for an ever-increasing witness to His Love in every generation, when God is waiting for a fuller measure of accepted suffering, we can't be so mean as to want to escape our share. What can we offer that is not based upon a real experience? O that we could see Him! If we could only see in the moment of our doubt and darkness that the union of the race with God does not depend upon Jesus lonely, but upon Jesus in company with [112/113] His spiritual children, and that in every generation there is an offering of faith and of hope to the Father, upon which the whole development of the Church depends! In our generation God comes to us and asks for our share, and we turn from Him and say: "No, that is not what we came into religion for. We expected peace, we expected never to have doubts about our absolutions, or about our communions: we expected to have a quiet life, and instead we find we are in darkness, and we are tempted. We expected we should be tempted a little, and that after we had said a certain number of prayers, we should conquer the temptation."
Then we look up to the Cross. We know what happened on the Cross, and we see gathered round the Cross multitudes of men and women who in their generation were content to endure to the end, knowing that no experience of suffering was wasted in this life, if it be given to fill up the tale of suffering that still remains to be filled before the Mystical Body of the Church comes to perfection. Oh, to-day let us enlist ourselves afresh in the army of Sacrificial Love, and cast away all [113/114] complaining, all faithlessness, all mistrustfulness and faint-heartedness.
Lord Jesus, I am nothing! That means I never expect anything; never expect that any feeling that I could have would be acceptable to Jesus. Lord Jesus, I am nothing, Lord Jesus, I have nothing! I never expect that the ordinary course of my life should be smooth, or that I should have sympathy, friendships and love, or even ordinary human joy, health or comforts. They aren't mine, I do not expect them, but I thank God when they come.
And above all things, if it were not for the dread of what might be in the next minute, I would like to say: I desire nothing but Thee and Thy love! I would desire nothing, not even freedom from temptation--only Thee and Thy Love. We would all say this, wouldn't we? Well then, let us leave the next minute to Him Who may never create it! Let us leave it to Him Whose Almighty Power can modify and turn it to His own use; and let us only regard Him Who draws our free-will by love. So we can bravely say:
I have nothing.
I am nothing.
 I desire nothing but Jesus and His Love, and if it be that love can never be perfected save through suffering and by the way of the Cross, then "Lord Jesus, keep Thy Hand upon me, lest I do Thee any harm."
LET us contemplate our Lord in His solemn Joy in the Passion. "Now is My Soul troubled and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy Name." "Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee." Let us contemplate that which Jesus, sees in His suffering, glorying in it. In the measure of His separation from earth, in the measure of His loneliness, He finds Himself glorifying His Father.
And let us contemplate Him as He is.
"I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude..... cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the Angels stood round about the Throne, and about the Elders and the four beasts, and fell before the Throne on their faces, and worshipped God saying Amen, Blessing [116/117] and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen." "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame." Lord Jesus, I will follow Thee wheresoever Thou goest. Lord Jesus, I am nothing, Lord Jesus, I have nothing, Lord Jesus, I desire nothing but Thee and Thy Love. Keep Thy Hand upon me lest I do Thee any harm.
THE JOY OF THE PASSION
For the keynote of our communions to-morrow let us take the Joy of the Passion: "Who for the joy endured the Cross."
Think about the joy of the Passion. We will divide it into two parts. There is the present joy, and there is the joy of the future. What is the present joy of the Passion? No two of us would describe it in the same way. We can only venture suggestions.
First this: it is a joy of victory already won for us. Whatever doubt may some-times assail us about future victory, how-ever much we are sometimes troubled at the number of people who resist our Lord, yet we know, that as far as our own souls are concerned, a real victory over sin has been won for us, and it is our business to be loyal to our Captain Who has conquered, and to follow on over a battlefield through which Jesus has passed triumphant.
 We have behind us a sense of oblation once offered, of a Sacrifice sufficient for the needs of the whole suffering universe. And it is upon that we base our joy. There is so much now in the world that is already held in God's Hand. Think of the difference seen in the world between the year in which Jesus began His Ministry and the year in which they laid S. John to rest--a period of 70 years. Think of the change that came over the universe in those seventy years: the absolute revolution in the world that the coming of the Holy Ghost meant.
Now, that is behind you--it is done. Read the prophecies connected with the fall of Jerusalem and the end of that age, those wonderful and mysterious prophecies of our Lord, and realize that they were all fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost and fulfilled in that most extraordinary revolution when the Holy Ghost Himself simply turned this world upside down together with the supernatural world, and set free a force of which you and I have no realization. All this is behind us. Our Joy: the force is at work; however long it tarry, however much it be resisted, it is [119/120] there in its working, and behind you. It is done. That is the first joy.
Secondly, this comes home to me: the Passion gives me the joy of the Precious Blood. The joy of the Precious Blood! We in England are so dull in our joy, aren't we? We don't let ourselves go in joy over spiritual things, we think it hardly appropriate, and we miss a good deal, don't we? The joy of the Precious Blood! I suppose some of you would think it vulgar--but one memory I have from my early boyhood--I was about six--is of a Gospel Meeting, singing:--
"Hallelujah, 'tis done,
"I am saved by the Son,
"I am washed in the Blood of the Crucified One."
The words had no particular meaning to me then, but I remember a great marquee filled with people full of real joy, no one there who had brought anything to Jesus, no one who had come to bargain with Him, to kneel at His Feet with something to give--they had just crowded in and it was all done: they were saved by a free Gift. Now, vulgar as the lines may be, we [120/121] can learn from them, can't we? Can we not come to our communions to-morrow morning absolutely joyful in the sense of being forgiven? I am saved by a free Gift! But so often our temptation is to spoil our joy by looking in upon ourselves. We come, some of us--most of us--at times to our Lord, trying to bring Him just some of the things that He has promised to give us. We worry ourselves with doubts about our confessions, we torture ourselves over our contrition and our repentance, whereas we ought to be simply singing "Hallelujah, it is done, I am saved by the Son, I am washed in the Blood of the Crucified One." Because He came in order to give us all these things, and granted good faith in us, Jesus does all the rest. We are saved by His Blood, His merits, His loving-kindness, and we do need to rejoice and be glad in His Precious Blood. So when we come to communion, it is possible to come expecting to please Jesus by the way in which we come, and it is no doubt a generous spirit: but let us come joyful in our hunger and in our terrible need. Don't misunderstand me; there is another side [121/122] to it, but we need to emphasize this. Because Jesus is coming to us, we must be joyful, although entirely unworthy, and having nothing to give. "Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord, Hosanna in the Highest": "He filleth the hungry with good things": "There were they in great fear, where no fear was." Let us rejoice, coming in absolute simplicity, bringing nothing but our complete faith and confidence in Him.
And then thirdly (and here we come back to our afternoon meditation, and I won't dwell on it again), there is the joy of the fellowship in His Sufferings. There is a simplicity of joy that comes to us when we feel that we have found a place in our Father's Household, and know that He is using us and our temptations, our sufferings, our struggles and pain: using all for the redemption of the Household from darkness and sin. There is some romance about it, if we can only get to that level of self-surrender.
More about present joy. There is the' joy which comes from the confident foreknowledge of Jesus. In the Passion the Blessed Saviour, foreseeing our passage [122/123] through death, has taken from death its sting. This is symbolical of the whole attitude of our Blessed Master to us always in our lives. Everything that happens to you or to me--everything that belongs to our lives--is foreseen by God, and in His Almighty Power it is measured and weighed according to our power of endurance; from each thing that may overcome us, Jesus has extracted the uttermost bitterness--He has tempered the wind. This is what we so need to understand; upon this we must base our prayer. The death of Jesus is not an isolated fact; it touches everything. Jesus goes through each experience proper to the human race; He touches each pain, each form of suffering, in order to extract from it all its worst, all its uttermost power over the children of God, and in each life He foresees what the world will do to His Father's child. He foresees the child's power of endurance, and it is in the child's own response to Jesus' Love, in his power of trusting Him, that his confidence in the foreknowledge of Jesus lies. This is the basis of joy.
There are many other reasons why we [123/124] should rejoice in the Passion. We learn little by little. This one seems to me quite essential: we must believe in the victory that lies behind us; we must rejoice like little children in the power of the Precious Blood; we must try and enter into the joy of our fellowship in His Sufferings; we must try and be pleased when our Father calls upon us to take our proper place in His Household; and we must be confident that He knows exactly what is coming, and that nothing can ever happen to us that is not foreseen by Jesus, and in a sense tasted by Jesus, certainly measured by Him according to our power of endurance. This is the present joy upon which we can exercise ourselves in prayer.
Now of the future joy: for there is a future joy, and you shall have one or two texts which will remind you when you come to pray about it.
First: the promise given by our Lord in the Vision of S. John in Revelation, 17th verse of the second chapter: "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new [124/125] name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." That's the promised joy. The joy of a secret experience lies between yourself and your own Jesus. For what is the name He will give you? It is the name that He will give you in the end, just exactly expressing His knowledge of you and your relations with Him. It will exactly express the spiritual experience of your life in Jesus from the beginning. The carving of the name, the writing, is the expression by Jesusw Himself of all that He knows in you of your secret endeavour, endurance, response, ministry, confidence, aspiration, humility, childlike acceptance of His merits and His Grace--suffering, acceptance of suffering, service; and ministry to others. He will find a name which exactly describes all that He has known in you, all that He has been to you, and all that you have been to Him. And all down the ages, to all eternity, that remains your secret, the secret between you and Jesus. What higher joy could Jesus offer to any one of us? What greater honour could He do us? Look up to the very Throne and see Jesus crowned, set upon the [125/126] Throne, ordering the whole creation, and know that between you and the glorious Conqueror King on the Throne there is a secret link, the link of a great secret that no man knoweth save you and the King, a love which is just a little different from any other love that He bears to any other person. Isn't that joy? For the joy set before us we can endure!
Secondly, there is another thought. Rev. iii. 21: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His Throne." Therein the words of Jesus Himself we have the confirmation of all that we have been saying about the sharing of the fellowship of His sufferings. It is not imagination, nor mere sentiment , it is a plain truth. You remember in the Book of Revelation two thrones are spoken of. There is the Throne of the Eternal Glory, called the Father's Throne--symbolical of the glory of the Godhead--the Glory of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the Glory that belongs to the Eternal Word in His own Essential Nature.
Then there is the second Throne, called [126/127] the Throne of the Lamb, and it belongs to the Eternal Word in respect of His Manhood. That Throne is the centre of the worship of the Mystical Body, the Church. That Throne is as it were the Throne of the Priest, the great High Priest, Jesus, and it is round that Throne, and with Him Who sits in the Throne, that we shall behold the Beatific Vision, and it is promised to us that we shall have our place in that Throne. It means we shall really and truly share the Beatific Vision, and really and truly share in the power of Jesus, share His Kingdom, share His Glory. And it is because in His Mercy we are to be found fellow-victors with Jesus that we first must know the fellowship of His sufferings, and the power of His Resurrection. If then we are, however unworthy we may be, looking forward to a day in the dim future when, by whatever means of purification, we are to share with Him the Throne as fellow-conquerors, ought we not to be joyful, not as this earth counts joy, but with a true spiritual exaltation, as we share with Him His sufferings?
And then, lastly, the third promise, Rev. xxii. 3, 4, 5: "And there shall be no [127/128] more curse: but the Throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His Face; and His Name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever." There is the promise that our Sonship, our filial confidence in God in darkness here on earth, shall finally be crowned, that we shall spend eternity in a light of sacrificial love from which all pain has been removed, that we through painful paths and ways shall be lifted up into the Sacrificial Love that belongs to the Eternal. "There shall be no night there," and we shall serve Him, seeing His Face. Ah, if that is the promise, can't we be content to live in the dark until He calls us? Can't we be content to serve Him without seeing His Face? It is difficult, overwhelmingly difficult sometimes, but for the joy that is set before us cannot we endure?" I Jesus have sent mine Angel to testify unto you these things." Can't we trust Him? Can't we believe Him? "I am the Root and [128/129] the Offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star. And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come." Come into the light, come into the service, come into the darkness of Sacrificial Love, because beyond it there lies the light which knows no cloud, beyond it is service in the full vision of the Eternal. For now, now present with you, unseen, unfelt, yet real, Jesus is present with you, Jesus, Whose whole Heart is filled with you, with your joys and your sorrows: He is coining for you in silence that name of Love, which to Him and to you shall ever speak of hidden struggles, of hidden love.