As we begin Holy Week 2012 and call to mind the life, death and resurrection of the Lord, I want to share a lesser known series of reflections composed by St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio. This passage comes from his spiritual treatise, The Tree of Life, a text that is not as well known as some of his other writings (like The Soul’s Journey to God and The Major Legend of St. Francis). The renowned medieval theologian Ewert Cousins, in his introduction to this text, explains that it was a progenitor to St. Ignatius’s emphasis on the imagination in the spiritual life. Bonaventure presents a very human, very visceral series of prayers, reflections and insights that invite the reader to a place of contemplation and engagement of one’s imagination in prayer. The Tree of Life presents short examinations of the different stages and key moments in the life of Christ. This passage is titled “Jesus Bathed with Tears,” with scriptural allusions to John 11:35, Luke 19:41 and Hebrews 5:7.
To manifest the sweetness of supreme devotedness, the Fountain of all mercy, the good Jesus, wept for us in our misery not only once but many times. First over Lazarus, then over the city and finally on the cross, a flood of tears streamed forth from those loving eyes for the expiation of all sins. The Savior wept abundantly, now deploring the misery of human weakness, now the darkness of a blind heart, not the depravity of obdurate malice.
O hard heart,
insane and impious,
to be pitied as if bereft of true life,
why do you rejoice and laugh
like a madman
in the midst of such misery
while the Wisdom of the Father
weeps over you?
Consider your weeping physician and
make mourning as for an only son,
a bitter lamentation;
let tears stream down
like a torrent
day and night.
give yourself no rest,
nor let the pupil of your eye be still.