Morning Meditation for the Third Friday in Advent ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Morning Meditation

CONSIDERATIONS ON THE RELIGIOUS STATE. X.

Consider the love we owe to Jesus Christ in return for the love He has shown us.

In order to understand the love the Son of God has borne us it is enough to consider what St. Paul says of Jesus Christ: He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant … he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. O my Jesus, only too much, indeed, hast Thou obliged me to love Thee.

I.

He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant. He emptied Himself! O God! what astonishment to the Angels, through all eternity, to see a God become Man for the love of man, and submit to all man’s weaknesses and sufferings. And the Word was made flesh! What a marvel would it not be to see a king become a worm for the sake of worms! But it is an infinitely greater wonder to see a God become Man, and then humbled unto such a painful and ignominious death on the Cross upon which He ended His most sacred life.

Moses and Elias, on Mount Thabor, speaking of His death, as it is related in the Gospel, called it an “excess”: They spoke of his decease (the Latin word is “excessus,” which also means “excess”) that he should accomplish in Jerusalem (Luke ix. 31). Yes, says St. Bonaventure, it is with reason the death of Jesus Christ was called an “excess,” for it was an excess of suffering and of love — Excessus doloris, excesses amoris. So much so that it would be impossible to believe it, if it had not already happened. It was truly an excess of love, adds St. Augustine, for to this end the Son of God wished to come on earth, to live a life so laborious and to die a death so bitter, namely, that He might make known to man how much He loved him. “Therefore Christ came, that man should know how much God loved him.”

The Lord revealed to His servant Armella Nicolas that the love He bore to man was the cause of all His sufferings and of His death. If Jesus Christ had not been God, but only man and our Friend, what greater love could He have shown us than to die for us? Greater love than this, no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends (Jo. xv. 13). At the thought of the love shown us by Jesus Christ, how little the Saints esteemed it to give their lives and their all for so loving a God! How many youths, how many noblemen, have left their house, their country, their riches, their parents, and all things to retire into cloisters, to live only for the love of Jesus Christ! How many young virgins, renouncing nuptials with princes and the great ones of the world, have gone joyfully to death, thus to render some return for the love of a God Who had been executed on an infamous gibbet and died for their sake.

Indeed, O my Jesus, my Lord, and my Redeemer! only too much hast Thou obliged me to love Thee; too much has my love cost Thee. I should be too ungrateful if I should content myself to love with reserve a God Who has given me His Blood, His life, and His entire self. Oh, Thou Who hast died for me, Thy poor servant, it is but just that I should die for Thee, my God, and my All. Yes, O my Jesus! I detach myself from all, to give myself to Thee. I put away from me the love of all creatures in order to consecrate myself entirely to Thy love.

II.

That Jesus Christ should die on the Cross for our sakes seemed to St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi to be “foolishness.” Hence she said Jesus was foolish with love: “O my Jesus, Thou art foolish with love!” So, also, the Gentiles, as St. Paul attests, on hearing the death of Jesus Christ preached to them, considered it a folly that no one could believe. We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling-block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness (1 Cor. i. 23). How is it possible, they said, that a God Who is in Himself most happy and is dependant on none, should die for the love of man, His own servant?

This would be as much as to believe that God became a fool for the love of men. Nevertheless, it is of Faith that Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, did, for love of us, deliver Himself up to death. He hath loved us and hath delivered himself for us (Eph. v. 2). The same St. Mary Magdalen had reason then to exclaim, lamenting the ingratitude of men towards so loving a God: “O Love not known! O Love not loved!” Indeed, Jesus Christ is not loved by men, because they live in forgetfulness of His love.

And, in fact, a soul that considers a God Who died for her sake, cannot live without loving Him. The charity of Christ presseth us (2 Cor. v. 14). The soul will feel herself inflamed, and as if constrained to love a God Who has loved her so much. Jesus Christ could have saved us, says Father Nieremberg, with one single drop of His Blood; but it was His will to shed all His Blood, and to give His Divine Life, that at the sight of so many sufferings and of His death, we might not content ourselves with an ordinary love, but be sweetly constrained to love with all our strength a God so full of love towards us. That they also who live may not now live to themselves, but unto him who died for them (Ib. v. 15).

O my Jesus, I choose Thee alone out of all things for my Good, my Treasure, and my only Love. I love Thee, O my Love! I love Thee. Thou art not satisfied that I should love Thee only a little. Thou art not willing to have me love anything besides Thee. I will please Thee in all things and I will love Thee much. Thou shalt be my only Love. My God, my God, help me, that I may fully please Thee. Mary, my Queen, do thou also help me that I may have a great love for my God. Amen. So I hope; so may it be.

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