First Point. — It is indeed strange that Jesus and His religion should be an object of scandal and contradiction among men; yet such was the prediction of the holy old man, Simeon: "Behold this Child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many, and for a sign which shall be contradicted." Never has a prediction been verified with more constant precision. Jesus was an object of scandal for the Pharisees by the splendor of His virtues. These haughty hypocrites could not endure Him whose wisdom compelled them to blush. They wished Him to be considered as a Samaritan, a sinner, one possessed by the demon, and they put Him to death. His poverty and humiliations were a scandal to the Jewish people. These worldly people imagined the Messias to be a conquering king, who should reduce all other nations under His empire, and they refused to recognize the Messias in the humble Jesus. The Gentiles were scandalized at the Cross, which they regarded as a folly. He had been an object of scandal for the pagan emperors, who persecuted Him for three hundred years, in the person of His disciples. The bloody persecutions ceased, but the scandal still remains. Even in His Church Jesus is an object of contradiction. The incredulous are scandalized at the mysteries which their proud reason rejects, because they cannot comprehend His mysteries. The libertine is scandalized at the severity of His Christian morality, and which he pretends is above and beyond the strength of men. The heretics are scandalized at the undeniable authority of His Church, and raise against her the standard of revolt. And lax Christians, in still greater numbers, are scandalized at the abasement of His mercies; while slaves of a miserable human respect blush at His name and the duties which that name imposes. Such ingratitude is indeed revolting; but are you wholly exempt from it? Is it true that Jesus is not for you an object of scandal? You love riches and Jesus despised them; you seek after pleasures, and Jesus condemned them; you are fond of the world, Jesus rejected the world. How, then, can you say that you love Jesus, when you love nothing which He has commanded, but, on the contrary, love precisely what He has forbidden? In thus Jesus an living, you cannot deny that Jesus is for you an object of contradiction. While you do not despise His name, His doctrine and His love are a scandal for you! Yes, Jesus is a scandal for you, O vindictive man! because He has pardoned injuries; Jesus is a scandal for you, vain young woman, because He practiced humility; Jesus is a scandal for you, young man, because He has loved purity; and for you, who do not know how to obey or mortify yourselves, Jesus is also a scandal, because He has practiced obedience even to the death of the Cross.
O my Jesus, inspire in my heart a true love for Thee, that henceforth nothing shall be a scandal to me, in Thy doctrine. Thy life, or Thy humiliations. I shall strive to become like Thee by loving what Thou loved and by despising that which Thou despised, and by practicing the virtues of which Thou hast given an example.
Second Point. — To be scandalized at Jesus is a crime. What greater outrage can there be against God, than to be scandalized at His benefits, and to seek in His infinite goodness some reason for revolt against Him? In fact, what is it, says Bourdaloue, that scandalizes and disheartens us in the religion we profess? Precisely that in which God manifests His love for us. All those mysteries which shock our delicacy — those mysteries of a God made man, a God humiliated, a God persecuted, a God dying — are these anything else than the fulfillment of that grand word spoken to us by God Himself — ''God has so loved the world"... Pope St. Gregory signalizes and deplores this criminal conduct, when he exclaims: ''Man has taken as an object of scandal against his God the very things which should inviolably attach him to his God." In fact, it is evident, if anything were capable of uniting us closely to God, inspiring us with zeal for Him, and making us ready to sacrifice everything for His honor, it is certainly the thought that God has died for us and was annihilated for us. This thought has produced marvelous fruits in the saints — prodigies of virtue, heroic conversions, renunciation of the world, and dispositions generous enough for martyrdom. And what has done all that? The sight of the God-Man, and of a God sacrificed for the salvation of men. This it is which has gained their hearts and filled them with intensest love. It is also that which has been the occasion of scandal for certain Christians and induced them to lead an idle, impure, and disorderly life. At the sight of this disorder, Tertullian indignantly exclaims: ''Be scandalized, if you will, at everything, but at least spare the person of your Saviour; spare His cross, since it is the source of your life ; spare it, since it is the hope of the whole world.'' If it were the angels who were offended at it, or were scandalized, this would be in a measure tolerable, since Jesus has not suffered for them. But since it is for you that the Saviour has come, and for you He has wished to die, the scandal should recoil on you and upon all crea- tures." Learn, therefore, at the foot of your Saviour's cross, the sentiments with which the memories of His mercies should inspire you. See, in His voluntary abasement, not a motive for blushing, but a reason for loving Him. It is not necessary to be a Christian to reason in this way, but it is necessary thus to think to be a Christian. The more you enter into these sentiments, the more you will participate in the grace and spirit of Christianity; and in proportion as these sentiments shall grow less in you, so too will the spirit of Christianity decrease in you. Let the worldlings run after the world and its vanities, but as for you, strive to cling closely to the person of your lovable Redeemer. There is no salvation except through Him; love His teaching, love His example, and love His religion, and then you will not make a subject of scandal that which is the principle of your salvation and the foundation of your perfection.
O my Saviour, do not permit that I should ever be scandalized at what Thou hast done for me and the divine teachings Thou hast given me. Impress on my heart such a high esteem for Thy humiliations and sufferings, that Thy cross may be at once my strength, my guide, and my glory.
Source: Short Instructions for Every Sunday of the Year and the Principal Feasts, Imprimatur 1897