Spiritual Reading for January 3rd ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Spiritual Reading


The Name of Jesus not only consoles us and preserves us from all evil, but it also inflames with holy love all those who pronounce it with devotion. The Name of Jesus, that is, of Saviour, is a Name which expresses in itself love, for it recalls to us how much Jesus Christ has done and suffered to save us. “The Name of Jesus,” says St. Bernard, “places before thee all that God has done for the human race.” So that a pious author said, with all the affection of his heart: “O my Jesus, how much did it cost Thee to be Jesus, that is, my Saviour!

St. Matthew writes, when speaking of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ: And they put over his head his cause written: This is Jesus the King of the Jews (xxvii. 37). The Eternal Father so ordained that on the Cross on which our Redeemer died should be written: “This is Jesus, the Saviour of the world.” Pilate wrote this, not that he had judged Jesus guilty because He took to Himself the title of King, for Pilate made no account of this accusation: and besides, at the same time that he condemned Him he declared Him innocent, and protested that he had no part in His death: I am innocent of the blood of this just man (Matt. xxvii. 24). Why, then, did he give Him the title of King? He wrote it by the will of God, Who thereby wished to say to us men — Do you know why My innocent Son is dying? He is dying because He is your Saviour; this divine Pastor dies on this infamous tree in order to save you, His sheep. Therefore it was said in the sacred Canticles: His name is as oil poured out (Cant. i. 2). St. Bernard explains this, saying: “that is, the effusion of the Divinity.” In the Redemption God Himself, out of the love which He bore us, gave Himself and communicated Himself entirely to us: He hath loved us and hath delivered Himself for us (Eph. v. 2). And that He might be able to communicate Himself to us, He took upon Himself the burden of suffering the pains due to us. He hath borne our infirmities, and carried our sorrows (Is. liii. 4). “By this title,” says St. Cyril of Alexandria, “He blotted out the decree issued against the human race,” according to the words of the Apostle: Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us (Col. ii. 14). Our loving Redeemer wished to deliver us from the malediction we had deserved, by making Himself the object of the divine curse in taking all our sins upon Himself: Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us (Gal. iii. 13).

Therefore it is not possible for a soul that is faithful in invoking the Name of Jesus, and remembering all that He has done to save us, not to be inflamed with love towards One Who has loved us so much. “When I utter the Name of Jesus,” says St. Bernard, “I see before me a Man of meekness, humility, kindness, and mercy, Who at the same time is the Almighty God, Who heals and strengthens me.” When we say Jesus, we should imagine to ourselves that we see a Man, meek, benignant, kind, and full of virtues; and know that He is our God, Who, to cure our wounds, chose to be despised, wounded, and even to die of pure grief on a Cross. St. Anselm, therefore, exhorts all who call themselves Christians to cherish the beautiful Name of Jesus, to have it always in their hearts, that it may be their only food, their only consolation. “Let Jesus be ever in thy heart. Let Him be thy food, thy delight, thy consolation.” Ah, says St. Bernard, it is he who experiences it, that can alone know what sweetness, what a paradise it is even in this valley of tears, truly to love Jesus.

“The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His lov’d ones know.”

Well did St. Rose of Lima know this happiness, from whose mouth came forth such a burning flame of love, after she had received Holy Communion, that it burned the hands of those who gave her water (as was the custom) to drink after Communion; as also did St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, who, with a Crucifix in her hand, cried out, burning with love: “O God of love! O God of love! Even mad with love!”; and St. Philip Neri, whose ribs were forced out to give room to his heart, burning with divine love, to beat more freely; and St. Stanislaus Kostka, who was obliged to have his breast bathed with cold water to mitigate the great ardour with which he was burning for the love of Jesus; and St. Francis Xavier, who, for the same cause, uncovered his breast, saying: “Lord, it is enough! No more!” — in this way declaring himself unable to bear the great flame that was burning in his heart.

Let us also try as much as we can to keep Jesus in our hearts by loving Him, and to keep Him on our lips by often calling on Him. St. Paul says that the Name of Jesus cannot be pronounced with devotion except by the operation of the Holy Spirit: And no man can say the Lord Jesus but by the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. xii. 3). So that the Holy Spirit communicates Himself to all those who devoutly pronounce the Name of Jesus.

The Name of Jesus is unappreciated by many, and why? Because they love not Jesus. The Saints have always on their lips this Name of salvation and love. There is not a page in all the Epistles of St. Paul in which the Name of Jesus is not found many times repeated; and it is the same in the writings of St. John. The Blessed Henry Suso, the more to increase his love for this Holy Name, one day with a sharp iron engraved the Name of Jesus over his heart; and being all bathed in his blood, he said: “Lord, I desire to write Thy Name on my heart itself, but I cannot; Thou Who canst do everything, imprint, I pray Thee, Thy sweet Name on my heart, so that neither Thy Name nor Thy love may ever be effaced from it.” St. Jane Frances de Chantal imprinted the Name of Jesus on her heart with a hot iron.

Jesus Christ does not expect so much from us. He is satisfied if we keep Him in our hearts by love, and if we often invoke Him with affection. And as whatever He did and said during life was all for us, so it is but just that whatever we do, we should do it in the Name of Jesus Christ, and for His love, as St. Paul exhorts us: All whatsoever you do, in word or in work, all things do ye in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Col. iii. 17). And if Jesus has died for us, we ought to be ready willingly to give our lives for the Name of Jesus Christ, as the same Apostle declared he was ready to do: For I am ready, not only to be bound, but to die also in Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts xxi. 13).

If we are in affliction, let us invoke Jesus, and He will console us. If we are tempted, let us invoke Jesus and He will give us strength to withstand our enemies. If, lastly, we are in aridity, and are cold in divine love, let us invoke Jesus, and He will inflame our hearts. Happy are they who have this most tender and Holy Name always on their lips! A Name of peace, a Name of hope, a Name of salvation, and a Name of love. And oh happy shall we be if we are fortunate enough to die pronouncing the Name of Jesus! But if we desire to breathe out our last sigh with this sweet Name on our tongue, we must accustom ourselves to repeat it often during our life.

Let us always add the beautiful Name of Mary, which is also a Name given from Heaven, and is a powerful Name which makes hell tremble; and is besides a sweet Name, in that it reminds us of that Queen who, being the Mother of God, is also our Mother, the Mother of Mercy, the Mother of Love.

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