The life of sorrow which Jesus lived, even from his birth.
Jesus could have saved us without suffering and without dying. But he willingly chose a life full of tribulations to show how much he loved us. The prophet Isaiah called him the man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3) because the life of Christ was to be full of woe. His passion did not begin at the time of his death, but from the beginning of his life.
Imagine Jesus, as soon as he was born, lying in a stable, where everything caused distress for him. His sight was troubled because he could see nothing in that cave but dark, rough walls. His sense of smell was haunted by the stench of dung from the animals lying nearby. His skin was irritated by the itchy straw that served as his bed. Soon after birth, he was forced to flee to Egypt, where he lived several years of his childhood, poor, and despised as a foreigner. The life he led afterward in Nazareth was not much better. Then consider how his life ended in Jerusalem, dying in anguish on a cross.
So the life of Jesus was one of continual anxiety—even worse than that, because he had constantly before his eyes all the sadness that would be his on the day of his death. One day a nun, complaining before the crucifix, said to him, “O Lord, you remained on the cross for three hours, but I have suffered my pain for several years.” Jesus answered her, “What you have said shows how unaware you are. I suffered even from my mother’s womb all the pains of my life and death.” But because Jesus voluntarily chose those afflictions, they did not hurt him as much as did the sight of our sins and our ingratitude for his great love. One particular saint could never stop lamenting over the offenses she committed against God. Her confessor said to her, “Cease crying. God has already forgiven you.” But she replied, “How can I cease crying when I know that my sins kept Jesus in a state of agony all his life?”
Affections and Prayers
O my sweet Love, did my sins keep you in a state of agony during all of your earthly life? Then, tell me what I can do so that you will forgive me, for I will leave nothing undone. I regret all the offenses I have ever committed against you, O my greatest Good. I repent, and I love you more than I love myself. I feel a great desire to love you. You have given me this desire, so now give me the strength to love you even more intensely. It is only just that I, who have offended you so much, should also love you so much. Remind me constantly of the love you have for me, so that my soul may always burn with love for you, and so that I may think of you alone, desire you alone, and strive to please you alone.
O God of Love, I was once a slave to this world. But now I give myself entirely to you. Accept me in your mercy, and from this day forward bind me with your love, O Jesus. I will love you while I live, and in loving you, I will die.
O Mary, my mother and my hope, help me to love Jesus. This alone is the favour I desire and ask from you.