Evening Meditations for the Second Saturday after Epiphany ~ Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Evening Meditation

“WHY WILL YOU DIE, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL?”

I.

St. Paul says that Jesus Christ, by dying for us, was made our justification: He is made unto us wisdom, and justice, and sanctification, and redemption (1 Cor. i. 30). “Justice,” comments St. Bernard, “in the washing-away of sins.” Yes, for God, accepting on our behalf the torments and death of Jesus Christ, is obliged to pardon us by virtue of the compact made: Him that knew no sin, for us he hath made sin, that we might be made the justice of God in him (2 Cor. v. 21). The innocent One was made a Victim for our sins in order that forgiveness through His merits might of right belong to us. For this reason David prays God to save him, not only for His Mercy’s sake, but likewise for the sake of His Justice: Deliver me in thy justice (Ps. xxx. 2).

The eagerness of God to save sinners was always immense. This eagerness led Him to reproach them with that cry: Return, ye transgressors, to the heart (Is. xlvi. 8). Sinners, enter once more into your own hearts; think of the benefits you have received from Me, of the love I have borne you, and offend Me no more. Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you (Zack. i. 3). Return to Me, and I will receive you into my embraces: Why will you die, O house of Israel? Return ye and live (Ezech. xviii. 31). My children, why will you destroy yourselves, and of your own free-will condemn yourselves to everlasting death? Return to Me and you shall live.

In a word, His infinite mercy induced Him to descend from Heaven to earth to come and free us from eternal death: Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us (Luke i. 73). But here we must be mindful of what St. Paul says. Previously to God becoming Man He was full of mercy for us; but He could not feel compassion for our miseries, because compassion implies suffering, and God is incapable of suffering. Now, says the Apostle, in order to be moved also with compassion for us the Eternal Word willed to become Man, capable of suffering, and similar to other men who are affected with compassion, so that He might be able not only to save us, but also to compassionate us: For we have not a High Priest who cannot have compassion on our infirmities, but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin (Heb. iv. 15). And in another passage: It behoved him, in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might become a merciful high priest ( Heb. ii. 17).

So, then, my Jesus, Thou art my God, and not being able to die as God, Thou hast been pleased to become Man capable of dying in order to give Thy life for me. My sweet Redeemer, how is it that, at the sight of such mercy and love Thou hast shown towards me, I do not die of grief? Thou didst come down from Heaven to seek me, a lost sheep, and how many times have I not driven Thee away, preferring my miserable pleasures before Thee! But since Thou dost wish to have me, I leave all; I wish to be Thine, and I will have none other but Thee.

II.

Oh, what tender compassion Jesus Christ has for poor sinners! This makes Him say He is that Shepherd Who goes about seeking the lost sheep, and on finding it He prepares a feast saying: Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost. And he lays it upon his shoulders rejoicing (Luke xv. 4, 6); and thus He carefully keeps possession of it in His fond embrace for fear He should again lose it. This, too, caused Him to say He is that loving Father Who, whenever a prodigal son that has left Him returns to His feet, does not thrust him away, but embraces him, kisses him, and as it were, faints away for the consolation and fondness which He feels in beholding His repentance: And running to him, he fell upon his neck and kissed him (Luke xv. 20). This causes Him to say: I stand at the gate and knock (Apoc. iii. 20); that is, although driven away from the soul by sin, He does not abandon her, but He places Himself outside the door of her heart and knocks by His calls to gain re-admittance. Hence He said to His disciples who with indiscreet zeal would have called down vengeance on those who repulsed them: You know not of what spirit you are (Luke ix. 55). You see I have so much compassion on sinners; and do you desire vengeance on them? You are not of My spirit. Finally, this compassion made Him say: Come to me, all you that labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you (Matt. xi. 28). Come to me, all you that are afflicted and tormented with the weight of your sins, and I will give you peace.

Ah, my Jesus, make me know the evil I have committed, and the love which Thou desirest to have. But since Thou hast borne with me till now, permit me not to give Thee any more cause for sorrow. Inflame me altogether with Thy love, and remind me always of all Thou hast suffered for me, that from this day forth I may forget everything, and think of nothing but loving and pleasing Thee. Thou didst come on earth to reign in our hearts; take, then, from my heart all that could prevent Thee from possessing it entirely. Make my will to be wholly conformed to Thy will; may Thy will be my will, and may it be the rule of all my actions and desires.

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