THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST.
XVI.-HOW MUCH WE ARE OBLIGED TO LOVE JESUS CHRIST.
Jesus Christ as God has a claim on all our love; but by the love which He has shown us He wished to put us, so to speak, under the necessity of loving Him, at least in gratitude for all He has done and suffered for us. He has greatly loved us that we might love Him greatly. “Why does God love us but that He may be loved?” wrote St. Bernard. And Moses had said the same: And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but that thou fear the Lord thy God . .. and love him -(Deut. x. 12). Therefore the first command which He gave us was this: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart-(Deut. vi. 5).
And St. Paul says that love is the fulfilling of the law: Love is the fulfilling of the law-(Rom. xv. 10). For “fulfilling” the Greek text has the “embracing of the law”-love embraces the entire law. And who indeed, at the sight of a crucified God dying for our love can refuse to love Him?
Those Thorns, those Nails, that Cross, those Wounds, and that Blood call upon us, and irresistibly urge us to love Him Who has loved us so much. One heart is too little wherewith to love this God so enamoured of us. In order to requite the love of Jesus Christ, it would require another God to die for His love. “Ah, why,” exclaims St. Francis de Sales, “do we not throw ourselves on Jesus Christ to die on the Cross with Him Who was pleased to die there for the love of us?” The Apostle clearly impresses on us that Jesus Christ died for us for this end, that we might no longer live for ourselves but solely for that God Who died for us: Christ died for all, that they also who live may not now live to themselves, but unto him who died for them-(2 Cor. v. 15).
And the recommendation of Ecclesiasticus is here to the point: Forget not the kindness of thy surety; for he hath given his life for thee-(Ecclus. xxix. 19). Be not unmindful of Him Who has stood surety for thee; Who, to satisfy for thy sins, was willing to payoff, by His death, the debt of punishment due from thee. Oh, how desirous is Jesus Christ that we should continually remember His Passion! And how it saddens Him to see that we are so unmindful of it! Should a person endure for one of his friends affronts, blows, and imprisonment, how afflicting would it be for him to know that that friend afterwards never gave it a thought, and cared not even to hear it spoken of! On the contrary how gratified would he be to know that his friend constantly spoke of it with the warmest gratitude, and often thanked him for it. So it is pleasing to Jesus Christ when we preserve in our minds a grateful and loving recollection of the sorrows and death He underwent for us. Jesus Christ was the desired of the ancient Fathers; He was the desired of all nations before He was yet come upon earth. Now, how much more ought He to be our only desire and our only love, now that we know that He is really come, and are aware how much He has done and suffered for us-so that He even died upon the Cross for love of us!