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The Sufferings Foretold: A Good Friday Reflection

From Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries:

We have explained elsewhere the sacred oracles of the prophets on our Lord Jesus Christ. I will say here in brief that they have seen everything: his two births, the first all divine, from the days of eternity; the place marked for the second in Bethlehem; a virgin who conceives him and gives birth to him; a child who was born to us; a son given to us. Child, man from the first day, and altogether strong and omnipotent God. Let us recognize with Zechariah the humble mount of this just, lenient and gentle king, when he enters his royal city. Let us consider with him the thirty denarii for which he was sold, and the use of this money to buy the field from a potter. Everything is accomplished in due time. The shepherd is struck and the flock dissipates. The disciples each retreat to their homes, and Jesus dies alone. We spit on his face, and he does not turn away to avoid the blows and infamy that come to him. We pierce him, and all Israel sees the openings of the wounds it has made to him. As another Jonah, to be thrown into the sea to save the entire ship, and like him he comes out after three days.

As time approaches, its mysteries are revealed more and more. Daniel counts the years when his anointing, his sufferings, his death followed by just vengeance and the eternal desolation of the ancient people who despised the Holy of Holies were to be accomplished. He sees in spirit the Son of Man to whom is given a dominion bounded by neither place nor time. This dominion, the most august that would have been and will ever be, will be the dominion of the saints of the Most High. Daniel, surprised at its size, is disturbed in his thoughts and keeps this word in his heart. But this Son of Man must suffer a violent death.

Isaiah teaches us to taste his sufferings; he must bear our sins, and thereby acquire and share the spoils of the strong; and the cause of his victories is that he gave himself to death. He was numbered with the villains, crucified between two thieves; he is the last of men and altogether the greatest. It is not by force that he suffers death; He offered himself to it because he wanted it. He has not opened his mouth to defend himself, he is as silent as the lamb under the hand that shears him. The silence of the Son of God among so many outrages and so many injustices, which is the most remarkable character of the Son of God, caused the admiration of this prophet. One believes him struck by God for his sins, he who is innocence personified; but it is for ours that he suffers, we are healed by his wounds. The prayers he pushes up to heaven in this state of suffering are the salvation of the sinners for whom he is praying. A long posterity will come out of him, because he has voluntarily suffered death; and his sepulcher, from which he will emerge victorious and immortal, will be glorious.


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