“THE LORD IS A LITTLE ONE AND EXCEEDINGLY TO BE LOVED.”
The Son of God wished to present Himself under the form of a sweet little Child that thus He might the more readily and the more forcibly draw to Himself the love of men. Little children of themselves are loved at once. To see them and to love them is the same thing. Thus, then, would He be born Who willed to be loved and not feared.
“O souls,” exclaims St. Bernard, “love this little Child, for He is exceedingly to be loved! The Lord is great and greatly to be praised-(Ps. cxliv. 3). The Lord is a little one and greatly to be loved! Yes, says the Saint, this God has existed from all eternity and is worthy of all praise and reverence for His greatness, as David has sung: The Lord is great and greatly to be praised! But now that we behold Him become a little Infant, needing milk, and unable to move, trembling with cold, moaning and weeping, looking for someone to take and warm and comfort HIm; ah, now indeed does He become the most cherished One of our hearts! “The Lord is a little One, and exceedingly to be loved!”
We ought to adore Him as our God, but our love ought to keep pace with our reverence towards a God so amiable, so loving.
St. Bonaventure reminds us that a child finds its delight with other children, with flowers, and to be in the arms. The Saint’s meaning is, that if we would please this Divine Infant, we too must become children, simple and humble; we must carry to Him flowers of virtue, of meekness, of mortification, of charity; we must clasp Him in the arms of our love.
And, O man, adds St. Bernard, what more do you wait to see before you give yourself wholly to God? See with what labour, with what ardent love, your Jesus has come down from Heaven to seek you. Hearken, he goes on to say, how, scarcely yet born, His wailings call to you, as if He would say: O soul, 0 soul, it is thee I am seeking; for thee, and to obtain thy love, I am come from Heaven to earth.
O God, even the very brutes, if we do them a kindness, if we give them some trifle, are so grateful for it they come near us, they do our bidding after their own fashion, and they show symptoms of gladness at our approach. And how comes it, then, that we are so ungrateful towards God, the same God Who has bestowed His whole Self upon us, Who has descended from Heaven to earth, and become an Infant to save us, and to be loved by us? Come, then, let us love the Babe of Bethlehem, is the enraptured cry of St. Francis; let us love Jesus Christ, Who has sought in the midst of such sufferings to attach our hearts to Himself.
St. Augustine says: “For this reason chiefly did Jesus Christ come, that man should know how much God loves him.”
But, my Jesus, even now that Thou hast come, how many men are there who truly love Thee? Wretch that I am, Thou knowest how I have hitherto loved Thee! Thou knowest what contempt I have had for Thy love! Oh, that I might die of grief for it! I repent, my dear Redeemer of having despised Thee. Ah, pardon me and give me the grace to love Thee!
And for love of Jesus Christ we ought to love our neighbours, even those who have offended us. The Messias is called by Isaias, Father of the world to come -(Is. ix. 6). Now, in order to be the Sons of this Father, Jesus admonishes us that we must love our enemies, and do good to those who injure us: Love your enemies, do good to them that ha.te you …. that you may be the chiJldren of your Father who is in heaven -(Matt. v. 44, 46). And of this He Himself set us the example on the Cross, praying His Eternal Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him.
“He who pardons his enemy,” says St. John Chrysostom, “cannot but obtain God’s pardon for himself”; and we have the Divine assurance of it: Forgive and you shall be forgiven-(Luke vi. 37}. There was a certain Religious who otherwise had not led a very exemplary life, but who at death bewailed his sins not without great confidence and joy, “because,” said he, “I have never avenged an injury done me.” As much as to say: “It is true that I have offended the Lord, but He has engaged to pardon him who pardons his enemies; I have pardoned all who offended me, so then I am confident God will likewise pardon me.”
But pardon is not enough for me, 0 my Jesus; Thou dost merit my love. Thou hast loved me even unto death; unto death will I also love Thee. I love Thee, 0 Infinite Goodness, with all my soul; I love Thee more than myself. I love my neighbour for the love of Thee. Yes, my Jesus, I love Thee; I will always love Thee, my Treasure, my Life, my Love, my All.