All Day (Tuesday)
Meditations for Lent By: Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet Courtesy of Sophia Institute Press Week 5: Tuesday The Pharisees The Savior’s reign should be glorious and brilliant, although with a different glory and brilliance than the carnal Jews
Meditations for Lent
By: Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
Courtesy of Sophia Institute Press
Week 5: Tuesday
The Savior’s reign should be glorious and brilliant, although with a different glory and brilliance than the carnal Jews had imagined. Jesus showed them that nothing was easier than for him to be recognized by the people as their king. It was necessary, however, that there be contradiction in his triumph, and this we see in the jealousy of the chief priests, the scribes, and the Pharisees. Their jealousy is explained by St. John. While everyone else flocked to see the Savior and to praise him, the Pharisees said among themselves: “You see that you can do nothing; look, the world has gone after him” (John 12:19). This they could not endure.
They were eaten up by jealousy. While even the children were crying out that he was the son of David, they said to him: “Teacher, rebuke your disciples” (Luke 19:39); “Do you hear what these are saying?” (Matt. 21:16). Jesus said two things in reply. First: “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou has brought perfect praise’?” (Matt. 21:16, Douay-Rheims). Should you be surprised if children offer praise to God in my person? If you had the simplicity and sincerity of innocent youth, you would praise God as they do; like them you would honor the One whom he sends. But your envy, vainglory, hypocrisy, and machinations prevent you. Strip yourselves of these vices and clothe yourselves with the innocence and simplicity of children, that you may sing the praises of Jesus Christ with sincerity and purity.
The Savior’s second response to the Pharisees was to say: “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40). For God is sufficiently powerful, as St. John the Baptist explained, “from these stones to raise up children to Abraham” (Matt. 3:9), and from the most hardened of hearts to make true believers. The time was to come, and has come, when the glory of Jesus Christ would ring out so loudly throughout the earth that the nations would assemble at the sound, and God would be worshipped by a people who had hitherto not known him and who had been sound asleep in their sins. O stones, O hardened hearts: you must awaken at these words of the Savior!
While the people applauded the Savior and made his praises mount to Heaven, his enemies, not content that their boundless envy should appear only in their speech, made secret plans to kill him.
Let us contemplate the effects of jealousy, which is one of the most severe wounds upon our nature. Jesus, who came to heal us of it, first had to feel all of its malice, and the suffering that envy would cause him was to serve as that venom’s remedy. Envy is the black and secretive effect of a weak pride, which feels itself diminished by the very least achievements of others. It is the most dangerous poison of our self-love, which begins by consuming the one who vomits it forth upon others and leads him to commit deeds most vile. For pride is naturally enterprising and wants to shine, but envy hides itself under all sorts of pretexts and is pleased by secretive and dark ways. Hidden lies, calumny, treason: every evil trick is its portion and cup. It shines forth, and brings forward against the just man — whose good reputation confronts its — every insult and mockery, with all the bitterness of hatred and the last excesses of cruelty. O Savior! O Just One! O Holy of holies! This is what had to be accomplished upon your person.
Let us tear out the splinters of envy lodged deep in our hearts. Let us consider the malice and the horror of such a poison.