In like manner all our sufferings are like the sufferings of other men; but it is only in the appearance. In reality our sufferings are the beginning of our freedom from suffering, as our death is the beginning of our life. This is that which Christ saith in John 8:51, “If a man keep my saying he shall never see death.” How shall he not see it? Because when he dies, he begins to live, and so he cannot see death for the life that he sees. For here the night shineth as the day; since the life that breaks upon him is brighter far than departing death. ( <19D912> Psalm 139:12) These things are assured to all who believe in Christ, to the unbelieving they are not.
Therefore, if you kiss, caress, and embrace, as most sweet relics, f220 consecrated by His touch, the robe of Christ, the vessels, waterpots, and what things soever He touched and used; why will you not the rather caress, embrace, and kiss the pains and evils of this world, disgrace and death, which He not only hallowed by His touch, but sprinkled and blessed with His most holy blood, yea, embraced with willing heart, and great constraininglove? The more, since in these there are for you far greater merits, rewards, and blessings than in those relics; for in them there is offered to you the victory over death, and hell, and all sins, but in those relics nothing at all. O could we but see the heart of Christ, when, hanging on the Cross, He was so eager to slaydeath, and hold it up to our contempt! With what grace and ardor He embraced death and pain for us timid ones, who shrink from them! How willingly He first drinks this cup for us sick ones, that we may not dread to drink it after Him! For we see that naught of evilbefell Him, but only good, in His resurrection. Could we see this, then doubtless that precious myrrh, dropping from Christ’s lips, and commended by His words, would grow most sweet and pleasant unto us, even as the beauty and fragrance of lilies. Thus saith also St. Peter, 1 Peter 4:1, “Forasmuch as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind.” And St. Paul, Hebrews 12:3, “Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
If we have learned, in the foregoing images, beneath us and above us, to bear our evils with patience, surely in this last, lifted above and out of ourselves, caught up unto Christ, and made superior to all evils, we ought not only to bear with them, but to love them, desire them, and seek them out. Whoever is yet far from this state of mind, for him the Passion of Christ has little value; as it is with those who use the sign and arms of Christ to ward off evils and death, that so they may neither sufferpain nor enduredeath, which is altogether contrary to the cross and death of Christ. Hence, in this image, whatever evils we may have to bear must be swallowed up and consumed, so that they shall not only cause us no pain, but even delight us; if indeed this image find its way into our heart, and fix itself in the inmost affections of our mind.