THE JOY OF JESUS’ COMING
Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice! The Lord is nigh. (Epistle of Sunday. Philip. iv. 4, 7).
Take comfort, take comfort, O men, saith the Lord, by the mouth of Isaias: Be comforted; be comforted, my people, saith your God. Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her; for her evil is come to an end; her iniquity is forgiven (Is. xl. 1). God hath discovered a way of saving man, while at the same time His Justice and His Mercy shall both be satisfied. Justice and Peace have kissed (Ps. lxxxiv. 11).
Speaking of the coming of the Redeemer, Isaias made this prediction: The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad, and the wilderness shall rejoice and shall flourish like the lily (Is. xxxv. 1). The Prophet had been speaking of the pagans (among whom were our own unfortunate ancestors) who were living in heathendom, as in a desert land void of a single man that knew or worshipped the true God, but peopled only with those who were slaves of the devil — a land desolate and impassable, because there was no path of salvation known to those wretched people. He foretold that the world, though so miserable then, would yet rejoice at the coming of the Messias and would see itself filled with followers of the true God, strengthened by His grace against all the enemies of their salvation; and that the whole land would blossom as the lily by purity of morals and the sweet odour of all virtues. Wherefore Isaias proceeds to say: Say to the faint hearted: Take courage and fear not! God himself will come and save you! (Ibid. 4).
This very event, foretold by Isaias, has already happened. Let me, then, acclaim with gladness: Go on joyfully, O children of Adam! Go on joyfully! Be no more faint-hearted! Even though you perceive yourselves weak and unable to stand against so many enemies, Fear not! God himself will come and save you. God Himself has come on earth, and has redeemed us, by imparting to us strength sufficient to combat and to vanquish every enemy of our salvation.
Oh, happy me, if from this day forward I shall be able always to say with the Sacred Spouse: My beloved to me and I to him! (Cant. iii. 16). My God, my Beloved has given Himself all to me. It is but reasonable for me to give myself all to my God, and to say: What have I in heaven and besides thee what do I desire on earth! (Ps. lxxii. 25). Oh, my beloved Infant, my dear Redeemer, since Thou hast come down from Heaven to give Thyself to me what else shall I care for or seek in Heaven or on earth besides Thee, Who art my Sovereign Good, my only Treasure, the Paradise of souls! Be Thou, then, the sole Lord of my heart and do Thou possess it wholly. May my heart obey Thee alone! May my soul love Thee alone and mayst Thou alone be its portion! Amen.
You have no grounds for being sad any more, says St. Leo, on account of the sentence of death fulminated against you, now that Life itself is born for you; “nor is there any lawful room for sadness when it is the Birthday of Life.” And St. Augustine exclaims: “O sweet day for penitents! Today sin is taken away and shall the sinner despair!” Speed on then with gladness, O ye souls that love God and hope in God, speed on your way with gladness! What if Adam’s sin and still more our own sins, have wrought sad ruin on us? Let us understand that Jesus Christ, by the Redemption, has infinitely more than repaired our ruin. Where sin abounded, grace did more abound (Rom. v. 20).
The Lord said: I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly (Jo. x. 10). I am come to give life to men and a more abundant measure than that which they had lost by sin. Not as the offence, so also the gift (Rom. v. 15). Great has been man’s sin; but greater, says the Apostle, has been the gift of Redemption. And with him plentiful redemption (Ps. cxxix. 7). For this reason the Church styles the fault of Adam a happy fault: “O happy fault which deserved to have such and so great a Redeemer!”
Oh, how much more are we bound to thank God for having brought us into life after the coming of the Messias! How did the Prophets and the Patriarchs of the Old Testament long to see the Redeemer born! But they saw Him not! Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just! (Is. xlv. 8), was their incessant exclamation. Send forth, O Lord, the Lamb, the Ruler of the earth! Such were the longing exclamations of the Saints! But for all that, during the space of four thousand years they had not the happy lot to see the Messias born. We, however, have had this happiness! But what are we doing? Do we know how to love this amiable Redeemer? Very great would be your ingratitude to your God, O Christian soul, if you were not to love Him, after He has been pleased to be bound in swaddling-clothes that you may be released from the chains of hell; after He has become poor that you may be made partaker of His riches; after He has made Himself weak to give you strength against your enemies; after He has chosen to suffer and weep, that by His tears your sins may be washed away.
O sweet Infant, give me Thy love and then do with me what Thou wilt. I was once a slave of hell, but now that I am free from those unhappy chains, I consecrate myself entirely to Thee. I give Thee my body, my goods, my life, my soul, my will and my liberty. I desire no longer to belong to myself, but only to Thee, my only Good! Ah, bind my heart to Thy feet, that it may no more stray from Thee! O most holy Mary, obtain for me the grace of living united to thy Son by the blessed chains of love. He grants all that thou askest. Pray to Him! Pray to Him for me! This is my hope. Amen.