THE LOVE OF JESUS IN SUFFERING FOR US
Since the coming of Jesus Christ, it is no longer a time of fear, but a time of love, as the Prophet foretold: Thy time is a time of lovers (Ezech. xvi. 8), because God has gone so far as to die for us: Christ hath loved us, and hath delivered Himself for us (Eph. v. 2). Under the Old Law, before the Word was made flesh, man might, so to speak, have doubted whether God loved him with a tender love; but after having seen Him suffer a bloody and ignominious death on a cross of infamy, we can no longer possibly doubt that He loves us with the utmost tenderness. And who will ever arrive at comprehending the excess of the mercy and the love of the Son of God in being willing to pay the penalty of our sins? And yet this is of faith: Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows … He was wounded for our iniquities: He was bruised for our sins (Is. liii. 4, 5). All this was the work of the great love which God bears us: He hath loved us, and hath washed us from our sins in his own blood (Apoc. i. 5). In order to wash us from the defilements of our sins, He was willing to empty His veins of all His Blood, to make of it for us a bath of salvation. O infinite mercy! O infinite love of a God!
Ah, my Redeemer, too truly hast Thou obliged me to love Thee; too truly should I be ungrateful to Thee, if I did not love Thee with my whole heart. My Jesus, I have despised Thee, because I have lived in forgetfulness of Thy love, but Thou hast not forgotten me. I have turned my back on Thee, but Thou hast come near to me. I have offended Thee, and Thou hast so many times forgiven me. I have returned to Thee only to offend Thee again; Thou hast returned to pardon me. Ah, my Lord, by that affection with which Thou didst love me on the Cross, bind me tightly to Thee by the sweet chains of Thy love; but bind me in such wise that I may nevermore see myself separated from Thee. I love Thee, O my chief Good, and I desire to love Thee ever for the time to come.
That which ought most inflame our love for Jesus Christ is not so much the death, the sorrows, and the ignominies which He suffered for us, as the end which He had in view in suffering for us so many and so great pains; and that was to show us His love and to win our hearts: In this have we known the charity of God, because he hath laid down his life for us (1 Jo., iii. 16). For it was not absolutely necessary in order to save us that Jesus should suffer so much and die for us; it were enough that He should pour forth but one drop of Blood, should shed but one tear for our salvation; this drop of Blood, this tear shed by a Man-God, were sufficient to save a thousand worlds: but He willed to pour out all His Blood, He willed to lose His life in a sea of sorrows and contempt, to make us understand the great love He has for us, and to oblige us to love Him. The charity of Christ presseth us, says St. Paul (2 Cor. v. 15). He does not say that the Passion or the death, but the LOVE of Jesus Christ constrains us to love Him.
And what were we that Thou, O Lord, wert willing at so great a price to purchase our love? Christ died for all, that they also who live, may not now live to themselves, but unto him who died for them (Ibid. 15). Hast Thou, then, my Jesus, died for us, that we might live wholly for Thee alone, and for Thy love? But, my poor Lord, permit me so to call Thee, Thou art so full of love that Thou hast suffered so much in order to be loved by men, and, after all, what is the number of those who love Thee? I see men intent on loving — some their riches, some honours, some pleasures, some their relatives, some their friends, some, in fine, the very animals; but of those who truly love Thee, Who alone art worthy of love, oh, how few such do I see! O God, how few indeed they are! Among these few, nevertheless, I too desire to be, who at one time, just like the rest, offended Thee by loving filth; now, however, I love Thee above every other good. O my Jesus, the pain Thou hast suffered for me urges and obliges me to love Thee; but that which binds me to Thee the more and enkindles my love is hearing of the love which Thou hast shown in suffering so much in order that Thou mightest be loved by me. O my Lord, most worthy of love, through love Thou hast given Thyself wholly to me; I, through love, give myself wholly to Thee. Thou for love of me didst die; I for love of Thee am willing to die when and as it shall please Thee. Accept of my love, and help me by Thy grace to do so worthily.