THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST.
III. — HOW DESERVING JESUS CHRIST IS OF OUR LOVE ON ACCOUNT OF THE LOVE HE HAS SHOWN US IN HIS PASSION.
The Divine Son of God, through His love towards us, has given Himself wholly to us: Who loved me, and delivered himself for me (Gal. 20). In order to redeem us from everlasting death, and to recover for us the Divine grace and Heaven which we had forfeited, He became Man, and assumed flesh like our own: Et verbum caro factum est; And the word was made flesh. Behold, then, a God reduced to nothingness: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant… and in habit found as a man (Philipp. 7). Behold the Sovereign Lord of the world humbling Himself so low as to subject Himself to all the miseries which the rest of men endure.
But what is more astonishing still is that He could very well have saved us without dying and without suffering at all; and yet He chose a life of sorrow and contempt, and a death of bitterness and ignominy even so far as to expire on a Cross — the gibbet of infamy, the award of vilest criminals: He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross (Philipp. ii. 8). But why, if He could have ransomed us without suffering, why should He choose to die, and to die on a Cross? To show us how He loved us. Who loved me, and delivered himself far me. He loved us, and because He loved us He delivered Himself up to sorrows, and ignominies, and to a death more cruel than ever any man endured in this world.
That great lover of Jesus Christ, St. Paul, has written: The charity of Christ presseth us (2 Cor. v. 14); wishing to show us by these words that it is not so much the sufferings themselves of Jesus Christ as His love in enduring them that obliges us and, as it were, constrains us to love Him. Let us hear what St. Francis de Sales says on this text: “When we remember that Jesus Christ, true God, has loved us to such an excess as to suffer death, and the death of the Cross for us, our hearts are, as it were, put in a wine-press, and suffer violence, until love be extorted from them; but a violence which, the stronger it is, becomes the more delightful.” He then goes an to say: “Ah! why do we not therefore cast ourselves on Jesus crucified, to die on the Cross with Him, Who has chosen to die for love of us? I will hold Him, we should say, and I will never let Him go; I will die with Him, and will be consumed in the flames of His love. One flame shall consume this Divine Creator and His miserable creature. My Jesus gives Himself unreservedly to me, and I will give myself unreservedly to Him. I will live and die on His loving Breast; neither life nor death shall ever separate me from Him. O eternal Lover my soul longs after Thee, and makes choice of Thee for ever! Come, O Holy Spirit, and inflame our hearts with love. O love, O death, to die to all other loves, to live solely to that of Jesus Christ! O Redeemer of our Souls, grant that we may eternally sing: ‘Live, Jesus! I love Jesus; live, Jesus, Whom I love! Yes, I love Jesus, Who reigns for evermore.'”