THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST.
II. — HOW DESERVING JESUS CHRIST IS OF OUR LOVE ON ACCOUNT OF THE LOVE HE HAS SHOWN US IN HIS PASSION.
St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, when she held any beautiful flower in her hand, was enkindled by the sight of it with love for God, and would say: “And God, then, has thought from all eternity of creating this flower for love of me!” Thus did that flower become, as it were, a dart of love, which sweetly wounded her, and united her more and more to her God. On the other hand, St. Teresa, at the sight of trees, fountains, rivers, lakes, or meadows, declared that all these fair things upbraided her for her ingratitude in loving so coldly a God Who created them that they might draw her to His love. To the like purpose it is related of a pious hermit, that when walking through the country, it seemed to him the plants and flowers in his pathway reproached him for the cold return of love he made to God; so that he went along gently striking them with his staff, and saying to them: Oh, be silent, be silent! You call me an ungrateful wretch; you tell me God has made you for love of me, and yet I do not love Him; but now I understand you, be silent, be silent; do not reproach me more.”
But God was not satisfied with giving us go many beautiful creatures. He has gone to such lengths to gain our love, as to give us Himself. The Eternal Father did not hesitate to give us even His only-begotten Son: For God so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son (John iii. 16). When the Eternal Father saw that we were all dead, and deprived of His grace by sin, what did He do? For the immense love, nay, as the Apostle writes, for the exceeding love He bore us, He sent His beloved Son to make atonement for us; and so restore to us that life of which sin had robbed us: Who through his exceeding charity with which he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ (Eph. ii. 4, 5). And in granting us His Son (not sparing His Son, that He might spare us), He has granted us every good together with Him, His grace, His love and Paradise, since assuredly all these gifts are much less than that of His Son: He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also with him, given us an things? (Rom. viii. 32).