THE MEEKNESS AND HUMILITY OF THE INFANT JESUS
Learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart (Matt; xi. 29). Pride was the chief cause of the fall of our First Parents. Unwilling to submit to obedience and obey the commands of God, they brought ruin on themselves and on the whole human race. But to repair the universal ruin God in His mercy decreed that His only-begotten Son should humble Himself, take upon Him our flesh, and by the example of His life induce men to love humility and detest pride.
Learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart. Pride was the chief cause of the fall of our First Parents. Unwilling to submit to obedience and obey the commands of God they brought ruin on themselves and on the whole human race. But to repair the universal ruin God in His mercy decreed that His only-begotten Son should humble Himself, take upon Him our flesh, and by the example of His life induce men to love humility and detest pride. St. Bernard invites us to visit the Cave of Bethlehem, saying: “Let us go over to Bethlehem and there we shall find what to admire, what to love and what to imitate.”
Yes, in the Cave we have what to admire, what to wonder at. A God in a stable! A God on straw! That same God Who sits on the highest throne of majesty in Heaven! I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and elevated (Is. vi. 1), says the Prophet Isaias. And where do we find Him now? In a manger, unknown, abandoned, with none in attendance save a few poor shepherds and two animals. Again, we have here what to love. We find One in Whom to place our affection, seeing here a God Who is infinite Good, and has chosen to abase Himself by appearing to men as a poor Infant, that thereby He might make Himself more endearing and pleasing in our eyes. But, as St. Bernard says: “the more lowly He appears to me the dearer He is to me.” And we find in the Cave what to imitate. We find the Supreme Being, the King of Heaven, become an humble little Child, desirous from His very Birth to teach us by example what He was afterwards to tell us by word of mouth: Learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart!
O my despised Jesus, Thou hast by Thy example done only too much to render reproaches and contempt sweet in the eyes of those who love Thee! But how is it, then, that instead of embracing them, as Thou hast done, when I receive some little contempt from men, I behave with so much pride, and take occasion from it to offend Thy infinite Majesty, sinner and proud that I am? Ah, Lord, I see why it is; I do not know how to bear an affront patiently, because I do not know how to love Thee. Did I love Thee truly, it would be sweet and pleasing to me. But since Thou dost promise pardon to him who repents, I repent with all my heart of all the excesses of my life — a life so unlike Thine. But I desire to amend; and therefore I promise Thee to suffer with patience from this day forward all the contempt to which I shall be subject, for Thy love, O my Jesus, Who wast so much despised for the love of me. I understand that humiliations are precious mines from which Thou dost enrich souls with eternal treasures. I deserve far other humiliations and other reproaches for having despised Thy grace; I deserve to be trampled on by the devils. But Thy merits are my hope. I will change my life, and will no longer displease Thee; henceforth I will seek for nothing but Thy Divine pleasure. I have deserved many times to be sent to burn in hell-fire; Thou hast waited for me till now, and, as I hope, hast pardoned me; grant therefore that instead of burning in those terrible flames, I may be inflamed with the blessed fire of Thy holy love.
Who does not know that God is the first and the highest in nobility, and the source whence all nobility proceeds? He is infinite greatness. He is independent; for He has not received His greatness from any other, but has always possessed it in Himself. He is the Lord of all, Whom all creatures obey: The winds and the sea obey (Matt. viii. 27). Truly, therefore, does the Apostle say that to God alone belong honour and glory: To the only God be honour and glory (1 Tim. i. 17).
But the Eternal Word, to provide a remedy for man’s disgrace, which was brought about by his own pride, having made Himself an example of poverty in order to detach man from worldly goods, desired to make Himself also an example of humility in order to free us from the vice of pride.
And in doing this the first and greatest example of humility the Son of God gave was to become a man, and clothe himself with our miseries: In habit found as a man (Phil. ii. 7). Cassian says that any one who puts on the dress of another hides himself under it; in like manner God hid His Divine Nature under the lowly dress of human flesh. And St. Bernard: “The Divine Majesty became little in order that It might be united to our earthly nature; and that God and clay, majesty and weakness, the most extreme abasement and the highest majesty, might be united in one Person.” A God to unite Himself to dust! Greatness to misery! Sublime majesty to wretchedness! But that which must make us wonder still more is that not only did God choose to appear as a creature, but as a sinful creature, putting on sinful flesh: God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. viii. 3).
O my Jesus, pardon me the pride of my past life and give me love in its place. I love Thee, my despised Saviour. I will no longer live without loving Thee. Help me, and let me not live any more ungrateful to Thee, as I have hitherto done. For the future I will love Thee only; I desire that my heart may belong to Thee alone. Ah, take possession of it and keep it forever, that I may be always Thine and Thou mayest be always mine; that I may love Thee; and Thou mayest love me. Yes, that is my hope, O my God, that I shall always love Thee, and that Thou wilt always love me. I believe in Thee, O infinite Goodness! I hope in Thee, O infinite Goodness, I love Thee, O infinite Goodness! I love Thee, and I will say it always: I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee; and because I love Thee I will do all I can to please Thee. Dispose of me as Thou wilt. All I ask is that Thou wouldst give me grace to love Thee, and then do with me as Thou pleasest. Thy love is, and always shall be, my only treasure, my only desire, my only good, my only love. Mary, my hope, Mother of beautiful love, do thou help me in loving the God of love with all my heart and forever.