THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST.
XVII.·-HOW MUCH WE ARE OBLIGED TO LOVE JESUS CHRIST.
For this purpose He instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist on the day preceding His death, and gave us the injunction that as often as we should be nourished with His most sacred flesh we should be mindful of His death: Take ye, and eat; this is my body … This do for a commemoration of me . . . For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice you shall show the death of the Lord until he come-(l Cor. xi. 24, 26). Wherefore the holy Church prays: ” 0 God, Who under this wonderful Sacrament has left us a memorial of Thy Passion,” etc. And she also sings: “0 sacred Banquet, in which Christ is taken, the memory of His Passion is renewed,” etc. Hence we may gather how pleasing to Jesus Christ are they who think frequently of His Passion, since it was for this very purpose that He left Himself in the Holy Sacrament upon our Altars. in order that we may bear in continual and grateful remembrance all that He suffered for us, and by this means evermore increase our love towards Him. St. Francis de Sales called Mount Calvary” the mountain of lovers.” It is impossible to remember that mount and not love Jesus Christ Who cried there for love of us.
Oh, God, and how is it that men do not love this God, Who has done so much to be loved by men! Before the Incarnation of the Word, man might have doubted whether God loved him with a true love; but after the coming of the Son of God, and after His dying for the love of men, how can we possibly doubt of His love? “0 man,” says St. Thomas of Villanova, “look on that Cross, on those torments, and that cruel death which Jesus Christ has suffered for thee: after so great and so many tokens of His love, thou canst no longer entertain a doubt that He loves thee, and loves thee exceedingly.” And St. Bernard says that” the Cross and every Wound of our Blessed Redeemer cry aloud to make us understand the love He bears us.”
In this grand Mystery of man’s Redemption, we must consider how Jesus employed all His thoughts and zeal to discover every means of making Himself loved by us.. Had He merely wished to die for our salvation it would have been sufficient had He been slain by Herod with the: other children; but no, He chose before dying to lead during thirty-three years, a life of hardship and suffering; and during that time, with a view to win our love, He appeared in several different guises. First of all as a poor child born in a stable; then as a little boy helping· in the workshop; and finally, as a criminal executed on a Cross. But before dying on the Cross we see Him in many different states, one and all calculated to excite our compassion, and to make Himself loved: in agony in the garden, bathed from head to foot in a sweat of blood; afterwards in the court of Pilate, torn with scourges; then treated as a mock king, with a reed in His hand, a ragged garment of purple on His shoulders and a crown of thorns on His head; then dragged publicly through the streets to death, with the Cross upon His shoulders; and at length on the hill of Calvary, suspended on the Cross by three iron nails. Tell me, does He merit our love or not, this God Who has vouchsafed to endure all these torments, and to use so many means in order to captivate our love? Father John Rigouleux used to say: “I would spend my life weeping for love of a God Whose love induced Him to die for the salvation of men.”