Morning Meditation for The Epiphany of Our Lord ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Spiritual Reading

“LO, HERE AM I, SEND ME!”

The Eternal Word became Man in order to inflame us with His divine love. Adam, our first parent, sinned. Ungrateful for the benefits bestowed upon him, he rebelled against God by a violation of the precept given him not to eat of the forbidden fruit. On this account God is obliged to drive him out of the earthly paradise in this world, and in the world to come to deprive not only Adam, but all the descendants of this rebellious creature, of the heavenly and everlasting Paradise which He had prepared for them after this mortal life.

Behold, then, all mankind together condemned to a life of pain and misery, and forever shut out from Heaven. But hearken to God, Who, as Isaias tells us, would seem, after our manner of understanding, to give vent to His affliction in lamentations: And now what have I here, saith the Lord, for my people is taken away gratis (Is. lii. 5). “And now,” says God, “what delight have I left in Heaven, now that I have lost men who were My delight?” My delights were to be with the children of men (Prov. viii. 31).

But how is this, O Lord? Thou hast in Heaven so many Seraphim, so many Angels; and canst Thou thus take to heart having lost men? Indeed, what need hast Thou of Angels or of men to fill up the sum of Thy happiness? Thou hast always been, and Thou art in Thyself, most happy; what can ever be wanting to Thy bliss, which is infinite? “That is all true,” says God, “but” (and these are the words of Cardinal Hugo on the above text of Isaias) — “but, losing man, I deem that I have nothing.” I consider that I have lost all, since My delights were to be with men; and now I have lost these men, and, poor hapless creatures, they are doomed to live forever far away from Me.

But how can the Lord call men His delight? Yes, indeed, writes St. Thomas, God loves man just as if man were His God, and as if without man He could not be happy; “as if man were the God of God Himself, and without him He could not be happy.” St. Gregory of Nazianzen adds, moreover, that God, for the love He bears to men, seems beside Himself: “we are bold to say it, God is out of Himself by reason of His immense love.” So runs the proverb: “Love puts the lover beside himself.”

And here St. Bernard, in his contemplations on this subject, imagines a struggle to ensue between the Justice and Mercy of God. Justice says: “I perish if Adam die not.” Mercy, on the other hand, says: “I perish if he does not obtain forgiveness.” In this contest the Lord decides, that in order to deliver man, who was guilty of death, some innocent one must die “Let one die who is no debtor to death.”

On earth, there was not one innocent. “Since, therefore,” says the Eternal Father, “amongst men there is none can satisfy My Justice, let Him come forward Who will go to redeem man.” The Angels, the Cherubim, the Seraphim — all are silent; not one replies. One voice alone is heard, that of the Eternal Word, Who says: Lo, here am I; send me (Is. vi. 8). “Father,” says the Only-Begotten Son, “Thy Majesty, being infinite, and having been injured by man, cannot be fittingly satisfied by an Angel, who is merely a creature; and though Thou mightest accept of the satisfaction of an Angel, reflect that, in spite of so great benefits bestowed on man, in spite of so many promises and threats, We have not yet been able to gain his love, because he is not yet aware of the love We bear him. If We would oblige him to love Us, what better occasion can we find than that, in order to redeem him, I, Thy Son, should go upon earth, should there assume human flesh, and pay by my death the penalty due by him. In this manner Thy justice is fully satisfied, and at the same time man is fully convinced of Our love!” “But think,” answered the Heavenly Father — “think, O My Son, that in taking upon Thyself the burden of man’s satisfaction, Thou wilt have to lead a life full of sufferings!” “It matters not,” replied the Son: Lo, here am I, send me. “Think that Thou wilt have to be born in a cave, the shelter of the beasts of the field; thence Thou must flee into Egypt whilst still an Infant, to escape the hands of those very men who, even from Thy tenderest Infancy, will seek to take away Thy life.” “It matters not: Lo, here am I, send me.” “Think that, on Thy return to Palestine, Thou shalt there lead a life most arduous, most despicable, passing Thy days as a simple boy in a carpenter’s shop.” “It matters not: Lo, here am I, send me.” “Think that when Thou goest forth to preach and to manifest Thyself, Thou wilt have indeed a few, but very few, to follow Thee; the greater part will despise Thee and call Thee impostor, magician, fool, Samaritan; and finally, they will persecute Thee to such a pass that they will make Thee die shamefully on a gibbet by dint of torments.” “It matters not: Lo, here am I, send me.”

So, then, for us miserable worms, and to captivate our love, has a God deigned to become Man? Yes, it is of Faith; as the Holy Church teaches us: For us men, and for our salvation, He came down from Heaven … and was made Man (Nicene Creed). Yes, indeed, so much has God done in order to be loved by us.

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