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 NINE

THE THIRD LEAF OF THE VINE

The third leaf of string of the Lute—the third word—is, “Mother, behold thy son”; and “Behold thy mother.” A sweet and gentle word, yet wonderful and profound, full of filial affection.

Good and kind as Jesus was, we do not hear that he maintained very intimate relations with his mother after he was come to manhood, nor that he often supped with her, nor that his words to her were more gentle than to others. But what loving affection towards his mother does this short sentence convey, and that just as his bodily presence was about to be withdrawn!

If I pass over in silence the suffering caused him by the cross, we must bear in mind how deep must have been the affection he felt for his blessed mother, especially in view of her immeasurable share in his passion. For he knew how deeply that sword of profound grief had pierced that softest of hearts. The knowledge of that material compassion added to the sufferings he endured from his wounds.

He saw her standing bravely by him in her whole bodily strength—her heart so full of grief, her hands clenched, her eyes overflowing with torrents of tears, her face drawn, her voice trembling. Imagine how frequent must have been her sighs as she stood there, with, I think, her head covered, because of her virginal modesty and her tremendous grief, lamenting over her son, saying, “Jesus, my son, would that I could die with thee and for thee, my son, my dearest Jesu!”

Imagine how often she must have lifted those modest eyes of hers up towards those cruel wounds, if, indeed, her gaze was ever averted, of if she could see them at all through the increasing flow of her tears. Perhaps she could not persuade herself to withdraw because of her tremendous grief of heart, a grief which I greatly wonder did not kill her. Remaining alive, she nevertheless shared his death; and being thus living, the pain she endured was more cruel than death itself.

But to prevent death intervening to cause her departure her son strengthened her both interiorly and exteriorly by his words and actions. How? As she stood by the cross, he said to her, “Behold thy son.” It was as if he were to say, “You will never be able to endure the bodily withdrawal of me, your son; I will, therefore, give you as your son my friend, whom I love above all else. When I am gone, his presence will be your consolation.” “You, John, are being deprived of me, your father; I will, therefore, hand over my dear mother to you, that she may be yours.”

How generous, good Jesus, hast thou become in thy nuptials! How bountifully hast thou, Kind and Bridegroom, disposed of all thou didst possess! Lo! thou hast bestowed thy loving prayer upon those who crucified thee, paradise upon the robber, a son upon thy mother, a mother upon thy son, life upon the dead, thy spirit into the hands of thy Father, and a sign of thy power upon the whole world.

For the redemption of thy servant thou hast poured out all thy blood, and that not from one part of thy body only, but from numerous great gashes. To the betrayer, the traitor, thou hast bequeathed the penalty of his offence, and to the earth, for a while, thine incorruptible body.

Forward to CHAPTER TEN


© 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.