Updated: Nov 1, 2020
It's funny how we perceive ourselves to be. I guess it's from a lifetime of seeing ourselves a certain way. For the most part, I think we'd like to consider ourselves as being somewhat "Christ like." But in order to be like Christ, we have to act like Christ. Makes sense right? So, the question would have to be asked, do we act like Christ? Unfortunately, very often, the answer is no.
Have you ever heard of St. Bridget of Sweden? I'm sure many of you have. She's a wonderful Saint and lived a very holy life. St. Bridget had as desire to know how many blows Jesus received during His passion and she prayed for a long time to know this information. One day, Jesus appeared to her and fulfilled her desire. He said, "I received 5480 blows on my body." Wow, let that sink in for a minute. He also said to her, "if you wish to honor them in some way, say fifteen Our Fathers and fifteen Hail Mary's with some prayers, which He taught her, for a whole year. When the year is up, you will have honored each one of my wounds." So, Jesus taught her the fifteen prayers and included twenty-one promises that would be given to those who recite these prayers, devoutly, for one year. The promises are pretty amazing.
I've done these prayers twice in my life and I'm in the middle of doing them a third time this year. It's not necessary to do them more than once, I just think they're such beautiful prayers that I enjoy doing them. The words in these prayers are very graphic and striking. They really give you a sense of what our Lord went through and what it's going to be like going into death. Things like, "I beg of Thee, O Sweet Jesus, that at the hour of my death, Thou wilt show me mercy," "Through this anguish, I beg of Thee, O my Savior, not to abandon me in the terrors and pains of my death," and "I beg of Thee, Lord Jesus, to have mercy on me at the hour of my death when my mind will be greatly troubled and my soul will be in anguish." Pretty scary words from Jesus Himself.
But there's something else about these prayers that really intrigues me and that's, how far from being like Jesus we can be. The fourth prayer, of the fifteen, relates something we've all heard before. "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." The rest of the prayer details how the bruises which He suffered and the weakness of all His Members, which were distended to such a degree, that never was there pain like His. From the crown of His Head to the Soles of His Feet, there was not one spot on His body that was not in torment. Yet, despite the pain and suffering, all the abuse, physical and emotional, He prayed for them.
Now let's think about ourselves. Let's consider how one single word said to us, that we don't like, can send us into anger and fury. We can practically hate someone over a single word. Think about a group of people, hurling every possible insult and degrading word at you. What if they accompanied those words with spitting in your face, pulling the hair from your head, punching you in the face, throwing you to the ground, kicking you while you're trying to get up and laughing right in your face. Our spouses, friends, co-workers, family members, can say one thing to us and we relish the thought of never talking to them again. Yet our Lord suffered mistreatment that's never even been considered for us, and out of love and humility, He prayed for them. I don't know about you, but as I'm writing this I'm feeling pretty ashamed and embarrassed of myself for how I can react at times.
If we have any hope of getting ourselves into Heaven, we'd better start taking, very seriously, the teaching of being "the image and likeness of God." We have to recognize our weakness and faults and work really hard at strengthening and correcting them. Our pride is going to be the spiritual death of us. Jesus has told us how difficult it's going to be to go into death. Let's not add to it by ignoring the examples left us by Jesus Himself. If Jesus had to lower Himself and submit to others, you can be confident that we're required to sink just as low, if not lower.
Peace, good and blessings.