“THE REDEMPTION OF HIS PEOPLE.”
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel because he hath visited and wrought the redemption of his people (Luke i. 68).
Heretofore we were all slaves of hell. But what has the Eternal Word and Sovereign Lord done to free us from this slavery? Ah, who would have believed it if holy Faith did not assure us of it? Who could ever have conceived it? But holy Faith tells us and assures us that this Supreme and Sovereign Lord, being in the form of God, emptied himself, taking the form of a servant — to release us from the slavery of our deadly foe.
Almighty God is Lord of all that is, or that can be, in this world, and yet He did not rule over the hearts of mankind that was groaning under the miserable tyranny of the devil. Before the coming of Jesus Christ this tyrant was lord, and even made himself worshipped by men as a god, with incense and sacrifices, not only of animals, but even of their own children and of their very lives. And he, their enemy and tyrant, what return did he make them? How did he treat them? He tortured their bodies with the most barbarous cruelty, he blinded their minds, and by a path of pain and misery conducted them unto everlasting torments. It was this tyrant that the Divine Word came to overthrow, and thereby to release mankind from his wretched thraldom, in order that unfortunate creatures, freed from the darkness of death, rescued from the bondage of this savage monster, and enlightened as to what was the true Way of Salvation, might serve their real and lawful Master, Who loved them as a Father and, from being slaves of Satan, wished to make them His own beloved children: That being delivered from the hands of our enemies, we might serve him without fear (Luke i. 74). Our Saviour came, then, to release us from the slavery of this deadly foe; but how? — in what manner did He release us? Let us learn from St. Paul what He did: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men (Phil. ii. 6).
O my Jesus, Thou hast been pleased to become a servant for love of me, and in order to release me from the chains of hell; and not only the servant of Thy Father but of men and of executioners, even to the laying down of Thy life! And I, for the love of some wretched, poisonous pleasure, have so often forsaken Thy service, and have become the slave of the devil! A thousand times over I curse those moments in which, by a wicked abuse of my free will, I despised Thy grace, O Infinite Majesty. In pity pardon me, and bind me to Thyself with those delightful chains of love with which Thou keepest Thy chosen souls in closest contact with Thee. I love Thee, O Incarnate Word! I love Thee, O my Sovereign Good! O, never suffer me to be separated from Thee again.
Our Saviour Jesus was, says the Apostle St. Paul, the only-begotten Son of God, equal to His Father, eternal as His Father, almighty as His Father, immense, most wise, most happy, and sovereign Lord of Heaven and earth, of Angels and of men, no less than His Father; but for love of man He stooped to the lowly form of a servant, clothing Himself in human flesh, and likening Himself to men; and since sin had made them vassals of the devil, He came in the form of man to redeem them, offering His sufferings and death in satisfaction to the divine justice for the punishment due to them. Ah! who would have believed it, if holy Faith did not assure us of it? Who could ever have hoped for it? Who could ever have conceived it? But Faith tells us that this supreme and sovereign Lord emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.
From His tenderest childhood, the Redeemer, by becoming a servant, was eager to begin and wrench from the devil that dominion which he had over man, according to the prophecy of Isaias: Call his name — Hasten to take away the spoils: Make haste to take away the prey (Is. viii. 3). “That is,” as St. Jerome explains it, “suffer the devil to reign no longer.” Behold Jesus, scarcely born, says the Venerable Bede, before He is registered in the Census of Cesar, and for our liberation “is Himself inscribed in the list of servitude.” Observe how, in token of His servitude, He begins to pay off our debts by His sufferings; how He allows Himself to be wrapped in swaddling clothes (a type of the cords which should bind Him at a later day, to be led to death by cruel executioners). “God suffers Himself,” says a certain author, “to be bound up in swaddling-bands, because He had come to release the world from its debts.”
I beseech Thee, O my Jesus, by all the sufferings of Thy life and death, do not suffer me ever more to leave Thee! Suffer me not to be separated from Thee! Suffer me not to be separated from Thee!
O Mary, my refuge, thou hast hitherto been my sweet advocate, for it is thou who didst prevail on God still to wait for me and to pardon me with so much mercy. Succour me now, and obtain for me the grace to die, and to die a thousand times, rather than ever again to lose the grace of God. Amen.