Evening Meditations for Day III Christmas Octave ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Evening Meditation

JESUS IN SWATHING-BANDS

I.

Imagine that you see Mary, having now brought forth her Son, take Him reverently in her arms, adore Him as her God, and then wrap Him up in swathing-bands: she wrapped him up in swaddling-clothes (Luke ii. 7). The Holy Church says the same: “His tender limbs in swathing-bands the Virgin Mother binds.” Behold the Infant Jesus, Who obediently offers His little hands and feet, and allows Himself to be swathed. Consider how every time the Holy Infant allowed Himself to be swathed He thought of the cords with which He would one day be led captive in the Garden, and of those also which would bind Him to the pillar, and of the nails which would fasten Him to the Cross; and, thinking of these things, He willingly allowed Himself to be bound, in order to deliver our souls from the chains of hell. Bound, then, in these swaddling-clothes, and turning to us, Jesus invites us to unite ourselves closely to Him with the sweet bonds of love. And turning to His Eternal Father, He says: My Father, men have abused their liberty, and, rebelling against Thee, have made themselves the slaves of sin; but I, to make satisfaction for their disobedience, am willing to be bound and confined in swathing bands. Bound with these, I offer Thee my liberty, in order that man may be delivered from the slavery of the devil. I accept these bands; they are dear to Me, because they represent the cords with which, from this moment, I offer Myself to be one day bound and led to death for the salvation of men.

And what fear can I have of Thy chastisements, O my beloved Infant, now that I see Thee in these swathing-bands, depriving Thyself, so to say, of the power of raising Thy hand to punish me? Thou dost give me to understand by these bands that Thou wilt not chastise me, if I will loose myself from the chains of my vices, and bind myself to Thee. Yes, my Jesus, I resolve to free myself. I repent with all my heart of having separated myself from Thee, by abusing that liberty which Thou hast given me. Thou dost offer me another and a nobler liberty; a liberty which delivers me from the chains of the devil, and places me among the children of God.

II.

His bands are a healthful binding (Ecclus. vi. 31). The bands of Jesus were the healthful binding to heal the wounds of our souls. Therefore, O my Jesus, Thou didst will to be wrapped in swathing-bands for the love of me. “O Love, how great is thy bond, which could bind a God!” O Divine Love, Thou alone couldst make my God Thy Prisoner. And shall I then, O Lord, refuse to have myself bound by Thy holy love? Shall I for the future, be so unfaithful as to loose myself from Thy sweet and amiable chains? And for what? To make myself a slave of hell? O my Lord, Thou remainest bound in this manger for the love of me; I desire always to remain bound to Thee. St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi used to say that the bands which we ought to take are a firm resolution of uniting ourselves closely to God by means of love; detaching ourselves at the same time from all affection for any thing that is not God. For this reason also it seems that our loving Jesus has allowed Himself to be, as it were, bound and a Prisoner in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, under the sacramental species, that He might see His beloved souls made also prisoners of His love.

Thou hast given Thyself up to be imprisoned in these bands for the love of me; I will be a prisoner of Thy immense love. O blessed chains, O beautiful emblems of salvation, which unite souls to God, bind also my poor heart! But bind it so fast, that it may never in future be able to disengage itself from the love of this sovereign Good. My Jesus, I love Thee; I bind myself to Thee; I give Thee my whole heart, my whole will. No, I will never leave Thee again, my beloved Lord. O my Saviour, Who, to pay my debts, didst will not only to be wrapped by Mary in swathing-bands, but even to be bound as a criminal by the executioners, and thus bound, go through the streets of Jerusalem, to be led to death as an innocent lamb to slaughter; O Thou Who didst will to be nailed to the Cross, and didst not come down from it until Thou hadst given up Thy life upon it — permit me not, I beseech Thee, ever to separate myself again from Thee, so as to see myself once more deprived of Thy grace and of Thy love. O Mary, who didst bind in swathing-bands this Thy innocent Son, bind me also, a miserable sinner, I pray thee; bind me to Jesus, so that I may never again leave His feet; that bound to Him I may always live and die thus bound, in order that I may have the happiness to enter into that blessed country, where I shall no longer have the power, and no longer the fear, of separating myself from His holy love.

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