“And they came to a place called Golgotha, that is, the Place of the Skull. And they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; but when He had tasted it, He would not drink” (Mt. 27:34). “Then they crucified Him.” (Mk. 15: 24)
The object behind the offering of the stupefying draught for those sentenced to undergo crucifixion was that it would produce a partial unconsciousness, so that the terrible agonies might not be so keenly felt. But it will be noted that our Lord would not accept anything that would lessen His sufferings. He did taste it so that the Scripture might be fulfilled, for David had said of the Messias, in prophecy: “And they gave Me gall for My food; and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink” (Ps. 68:22). Scripture thus fulfilled, our Lord refused to do more than taste of it, since He did not seek to lessen in any way the bitterness of the cup which His Father had given Him to drink.
There is an important lesson for all of us in this incident in the Passion of our Lord and that lesson is that we are more Christlike when we accept the crosses and trials of this life as they come to us, seeing in them golden opportunities for making reparation for our own sins and the sins of the world, and at the same time, seeing all such crosses as sent to us by God for our spiritual benefit. As Christians we are not bound to seek suffering, but when it comes in the path of duty, let us meet it calmly, resolutely, and fearlessly.
“Then they crucified Him.” (Mk. 15:24) To the devout Christian every item of information he can gain concerning that dread scene at Calvary is of the utmost value. The horrible act of crucifixion itself was foreign to the Jewish people, for it was of Roman origin, and the sufferings it caused signifies the extreme anguish to which human sensibility can go. It was long and lingering in its operation. Apart from the agony inflicted by the nailing of the hands and feet, even greater suffering was inflicted by the constrained posture on the Cross. And there hung the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, suspended between Heaven and earth for three long and agony-filled hours until the full debt for your sins and mine was paid. What a terrible thing sin must be, that its expiation required such a sacrifice! The hearts of all who dwell on the picture of Christ dying on the Cross must of necessity be stirred to beg for the grace to avoid ever committing a deliberate mortal sin again. How can we ever in the future be careless about sinning when we contemplate what our Lord suffered to save us from our sins! And what can we say of the wonderful love God must have for sinful man to cause Him to give His Son to endure such a death to save him!
Make time today to go, in spirit, to Calvary’s hill and take your place beside the sinless Mary, the Virgin Mother of Christ, and beside the sinner Mary Magdalen. Your own selfish sinful heart will know what to say to Christ as He hangs on the Cross. Tell Him of how you thank Him for what He has done for you and beg of Him the special grace to know the vileness and tragedy of sin.
The price has been paid. Christ died on the Cross. But men, forgetting the awful ransom paid by our Lord, go right on sinning. Hear our Lord say to Mother Marie Saint-Cecile of Rome: “I understand human frailty. I forgive readily, I forget indelicacies as soon as the soul returns to Me, but that does not prevent My Heart from feeling the wound.”
Promise our Lord today that never again will you wound His Sacred heart by sin. Make the slogan of St. Dominic Savio your motto: “Death rather than mortal sin.”