Fifth Sunday in Lent (Passion Sunday)

 

From the Ordinariate Customary

We beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people: that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

A reading from the sermons of Lancelot Andrewes

To consider his sufferings, and to begin with the first: the pains of his body, his wounds and his stripes.

Our very eye will soon tell us that no place was left in his body, where he might be smitten and was not. His skin and flesh rent with the whips and scourges, his hands and feet wounded with the nails, his head with the thorns, his very heart with the spear-point; all his senses, all his parts laden with whatsoever wit or malice could invent. His blessed body given as an anvil to be beaten upon with the violent hands of those barbarous miscreants, till they brought his into this case of ‘if ever there were sorrow like my sorrow’ (Lam 1:12). For Pilate’s Ecce Homo!’ (Jn 19:5), his shewing him with an Ecce, as if he should say, Behold, look if ever you saw the like rueful spectacle; this very shewing of his sheweth plainly, he was then come into woeful plight – so woeful as Pilate verily believed his very sight so pitiful, as it would have moved the hardest heart of them all to have relented and said, This is enough, we desire no more. And this for the wounds of his body, for on this we stand not.

In this peradventure some ‘like’ may be found, in the pains of the body; but in the second, the sorrow of the soul, I am sure, none. And indeed, the pain of the body is but the body of pain; the very soul of sorrow and pain is the soul’s sorrow and pain. Give me any grief, save the grief of the mind, saith the Wise Man; for, saith Solomon, ‘The spirit of a man will sustain all his other infirmities, but a wounded spirit, who can bear? (Prov 18:14). And of this, this of his soul, I dare make a case, ‘If there be any sorrow…’.

‘He began to be troubled in soul’ saith St John (Jn 12:27); ‘to be in an agony’, saith St Luke (Lk 22:44); ‘to be in anguish of mind and deep distress’, saith St Mark (Mk 14:33). To have his soul round about on every side environed with sorrow, and that sorrow to the death. Here is trouble, anguish, agony, sorrow, and deadly sorrow; but it must be such, as never the like: so it was too.

The estimate whereof we may take from the second word of melting, that is, from his sweat in the garden; strange, and the like whereof was never heard or seen.

No manner violence offered him in body, no man touching him or being near him; in a cold night, for they were fain to have a fire within doors, lying abroad in the air and upon the cold earth, to be all of a sweat, and that sweat to be blood; and not as they call it ‘a thin faint sweat’, but ‘of great drops’; and these so many, so plenteous, as they went through his apparel and all; and through all streamed to the ground, and that in great abundance; – read, enquire, and consider, ‘if ever there were sweat like this sweat of his’. Never the like sweat certainly, and therefore never the like sorrow. Our translation is: ’done unto me’; but we said the word properly signifieth, and so St Jerome and the Chaldean paraphrase read it, ‘melted me’. And truly it should seem by this fearful sweat of his he was near some furnace, the feeling whereof was able to cast him into that sweat, and to turn his sweat into drops of blood. And sure it was so; for see, even in the very next words of all to this verse, he complaineth of it: ‘that a fire was sent into his bones’ (Lam 1:13) which melted him, and made that bloody sweat to distil from him. That hour, what his feelings were, it is dangerous to define; we know them not, we may be too bold to determine of them. To very good purpose it was, that the ancient Fathers of the Greek Church in their Liturgy, after they have recounted all the particular pains, as they are set down in his Passion, and by all, and by every one of them called for mercy, do after all shut up all with this, ‘By thine unknown sorrows and sufferings, felt by thee, but not distinctly known by us, Have mercy upon us, and save us!’

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