THURSDAY THE OCTAVE OF THE ASCENSION
ON THE GREAT PATTERN OF CHARITY
Consider first, how Christ Jesus our Lord has given us himself for a pattern of perfect charity in the parable of the good Samaritan, (Luke x.) He himself came down in person from his throne above to save poor man, who had unhappily fallen among the infernal robbers, and was stript by them of all grace, and grievously wounded in all his faculties. He was the good shepherd that came down to seek with sorrow the lost sheep, in order to lay him upon his own shoulders, and carry him home with joy to his heavenly fold. It is here we plainly discover the infinite charity both of the Father and of the Son. ‘By this hath the charity of God appeared towards us,’ says the beloved disciple, ‘because God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we may live by him. In this is charity not as though we had loved God, but because he hath first loved us, and sent his Son to a propitiation for our sins,’ 1 John iv. 9,10.
Consider 2ndly, that the whole life of Christ was a continual exercise of divine charity. From the first moment of his conception in the womb of his blessed mother till his expiring on the cross, his soul was ever employed in loving his heavenly Father, and in offering himself to all his wills; and for the love of his Father, and because it was his Father’s will, he dedicated his whole life also to the love of us; ever thinking on us, praying for us, and labouring for our eternal salvation. But O, the infinite charity he has shown us in all that he has endured in his passion and death for the love of us! Christians, pass over in your minds all the stages of his passion, from his prayer and agony in the garden to his expiring on the cross; and see the multitude and variety of torments he has there suffered for us. Ah! how much have our sins cost this innocent Lamb of God? Ah! how dearly has he loved us! O, my soul, in the midst of all these tortures he had thee in his heart; and even then was pleading thy cause with his eternal Father, when, by thy sins, thou wast crucifying him. O! what return shall we make him for this infinite love!
Consider 3rdly, that the Son of God has not only loved us during the whole course of his mortal life, and loved us even to death, by laying down his life for the love of us; but he has carried his love for us beyond the bonds of death in an admirable legacy, which he bequeathed us the night before his passion; by means of which, to satisfy his love, he remains always with us in the divine mysteries, even to the end of the world. Here he feeds our souls with his precious body and blood; here he unites us to himself in such a manner as to abide in us, and we in him; here he is a perpetual source of grace, of love, and of true life to our souls; here he communicates himself to us like the manna of heaven, for the support of our pilgrimage, till he brings us to the true land of promise, where he will lovingly give himself to us for all eternity. And shall not so much charity on his part oblige us to dedicate also our whole souls to this divine virtue.
Conclude to have always before thy eyes this great pattern of love, that thou mayest learn from him how thou art to love both thy God and thy neighbour.