Evening Meditations for the Third Tuesday after Epiphany ~ Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Evening Meditation

II. WHAT THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST REQUIRES OF US

I.

Does Jesus Christ, perhaps, claim too much in asking us to give ourselves wholly to Him, after He has given us all His Blood and His life, in dying for us upon the Cross? The charity of Christ presseth us (2 Cor. v. 14). Let us hear what St. Francis de Sales says upon these words: “To know that Jesus has loved us unto death, and even the death of the Cross, is not this to feel our hearts constrained by a violence which is all the stronger in proportion to its loveliness?” And then he adds: “My Jesus gives Himself all to me, and I give myself all to Him. On His bosom will I live and die. Neither death nor life shall ever separate me from Him.”

It was for this end, says St. Paul, that Jesus Christ died, that each of us should no longer live to the world or to himself, but to Him alone Who has given Himself wholly to us. And Christ died for all, that they who live may not now live to themselves, but to him who died for them (2 Cor. v. 15). He who lives to the world seeks to please the world; he who lives to himself seeks to please himself; but he who lives to Jesus Christ seeks only to please Jesus Christ, and fears only to displease Him. His only joy is to see Him loved; his only sorrow, to see Him despised. This is to live to Jesus Christ; and this is what He claims from each one of us. I repeat, does He claim too much from us, after having given us His Blood and His life?

Ah, my Jesus, I love Thee above all things, and whom would I wish to love if I love not Thee, Who art infinite Goodness, and Who hast died for me. Would that I could die of grief every time I think of how I have so often driven Thee away from my soul by my sins, and separated myself from Thee, Who art my only Good, and Who hast loved me so much. Who shall separate us from the charity of Christ? (Rom. viii. 35). It is sin only that can separate me from Thee. But I hope in the Blood Thou hast shed for me, that Thou wilt never allow me to separate myself from Thy love, and to lose Thy grace, which I prize more than every other good. I give myself wholly to Thee. Do Thou accept me, and draw all my affections to Thyself, that so I may love none but Thee.

II.

Why, then, O my God! do we employ our affections in loving creatures, relatives, friends, the great ones of the world, who have never suffered for us scourges, thorns, or nails, nor shed one drop of blood for us; and not in loving a God, Who for love of us came down from Heaven and was made Man, and has shed all His Blood for us in the midst of torments, and finally died of grief upon a Cross, in order to win to Himself our hearts! Moreover, in order to unite Himself more closely to us, He has left Himself, after His death, upon our altars, where He makes Himself one with us, that we may understand how burning is the love wherewith He loves us? “He hath mingled Himself with us,” exclaims St. John Chrysostom, “that we may be one and the same thing; for this is the desire of those who ardently love.” And St. Francis de Sales, speaking of the Holy Communion, adds: “There is no action in which we can think of our Saviour as more tender or more loving than this in which He, as it were, annihilates Himself, and reduces Himself to food, in order to unite Himself to the hearts of His faithful ones.”

But how comes it, O Lord, that I, after having been loved by Thee to such an excess, have had the heart to despise Thee? According to Thy just reproach: I have brought up children, and exalted them, but they have despised me (Is. i. 2), I, too, have dared to turn my back upon Thee, in order to gratify my senses. Thou hast cast me behind thy back (Ezech. xxiii. 35). I have dared to drive Thee from my soul. The wicked have said to God: Depart from us (Job xxi. 14). I have dared to afflict that Heart of Thine which has loved me so much. And what am I now to do? Ought I to be distrustful of Thy Mercy? I curse the days wherein I dishonoured Thee. Oh, would that I had died a thousand times, O my Saviour, rather than that I had ever offended Thee! O Lamb of God! Thou hast bled to death upon the Cross to wash away our sins in Thy Blood. O sinners! what would you not pay on the day of Judgment for one drop of the Blood of this Lamb! O my Jesus! have pity on me, and pardon me; but Thou knowest my weakness; take, then, my will that it may never more rebel against Thee. Expel from me all love that is not for Thee. I choose Thee alone for my Treasure and my only Good. Thou art sufficient for me, and I desire no other good but Thee. The God of my heart, and the God that is my portion forever (Ps. lxxii. 26).

O little Sheep beloved of God (so used St. Teresa to call the Blessed Virgin), who art the Mother of the divine Lamb, recommend me to thy Son. Thou, after Jesus, art my hope; for thou art the hope of sinners. Into thy hands I entrust my eternal salvation. Spes nostra, salve!

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