The Mystical Vine
A treatise on the Passion of Our Lord

Saint Bonaventure

Translated from the Latin by a Friar of S.S.F.
Edited by Matthew Dallman




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CHAPTER SEVEN

THE LEAVES OF THE VINE IN DETAIL: CHRIST’S FIRST WORD FROM THE CROSS

Our Vine uttered seven words while he was raised upon the cross. They are, as it were, seven leaves that are ever green. Or it you prefer, your Bridegroom can be thought of as a kind of lute, which is an instrument that consists of a piece of wood shaped like a cross. His body, in place of the strings, is stretched across the wood, but the seven words are the individual strings.

The first word uttered by our most compassionate Jesus, as he hung on the cross, was, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

O how green is this leaf! How proper a word for One who is the Word of the Father most high! This good teacher practices what he preaches. He does not pray for his friends alone, but for his persecutors and those who spake against him. Lay this leaf up in the treasury of your heart, so that whenever your enemies rage against you, you may be able to utter this memorial of the good Jesus’ overflowing kindness. Hold his word up against the insults of enemies, as if it were a shield. If your Bridegroom can pray for his murderers, can you not also pray for your detractors?

Let us, however, examine the words in greater detail. He says, “Father.” Why does he use the title Father? Do not children, when they want something from their fathers, shew their affection by calling them by some paternal name? They thus remind them of their natural love, in order to get what they desire more easily.

So Jesus, “gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and of great mercy,” good to all comers, though he knows that the Father always hears him, by this word sets us an example, shewing the affection with which we ought to pray for our enemies. He uses that affectionate title as if to say, “By that paternal love which is the basis of our unity, by which I know thou always hearest me, I beseech thee on behalf of my murderers to forgive and overlook their deeds. Look at the love of your Son, and overlook the behavior of his enemies.”

Forward to CHAPTER EIGHT


© Akenside Press and Matthew C. Dallman, 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, Akenside Press.