THE LOVE OF GOD
III. — THE LOVE HE HAS SHOWN US IN HIS PASSION
I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptised, said Jesus, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished (Luke xii. 50). I am to be baptized with the Baptism of My own Blood, and I feel myself dying through a desire that My Passion and death may come soon that thus man may know the love I bear him. Ah, my Jesus, men do not love Thee because they do not think of the love Thou hast had for them.
Our astonishment increases more and more when we consider the ardour with which Jesus Christ desired to suffer and die for the love of us. I have a baptism, said Jesus Christ, wherewith I am to be baptized; and how am I straitened until it be accomplished (Luke xii. 50). I am to be baptized with the Baptism of My own Blood; and I feel Myself dying through a desire that My Passion and death may soon come, that thus man may know the love I bear to him. It was this desire that made Jesus say on the night before His Passion: With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you before I suffer (Luke xxii. 15). Then, says St. Basil of Seleucia, it appears that our God cannot be satiated with loving men.
Ah, my Jesus, men do not love Thee because they do not think of the love Thou hast had for them. O God! how is it possible for a soul to live without loving God, if she considers that He died for her sake and died with so great a desire of showing His love for her? The charity of Christ presseth us (2 Cor. v. 14). St. Paul says that it is not so much what Jesus Christ has done and suffered for our salvation, as the love He displayed in suffering for us, that obliges, and, as it were, forces us to love Him. Contemplating the love which Jesus Christ exhibits in His Passion, St. Laurence Justinian exclaimed: We have seen Wisdom Itself as it were foolish, through the excess of love for us. And who could ever believe, had not Faith assured us of it, that the Creator should die for His own creatures? In an ecstasy, St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, holding a Crucifix in her hands, exclaimed: “Yes, my Jesus, Thou art foolish through love.” This the Gentiles also said when they heard the Apostles preaching the death of Jesus Christ. They regarded it as a folly which could not be believed. We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling-block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness (1 Cor. i. 23). And how, said they, could a God that is most happy in Himself, and stands not in need of anyone, descend on earth to become Man and die for the love of men who are His creatures? This would be the same as to believe that a God had become foolish for the sake of men. But it is of Faith that Jesus Christ the true Son of God, delivered Himself to death for the love of us. Christ hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us (Eph. v. 2).
Ah, my dear Redeemer, it is true that I have not loved Thee, because I have not reflected on the love Thou hast borne me! Ah, my Jesus, I have been very ungrateful to Thee. Thou hast given Thy life for me by submitting to the most painful of all deaths; and have I been so ungrateful as not even to think of Thy sufferings? Pardon me; I promise, O my crucified Love, that from this day forward Thou shalt be the only object of my thoughts and of all my affections! Ah, when the devil or the world presents me with forbidden fruit, remind me, O my beloved Saviour, of the pains Thou hast endured for my sake, that I may love Thee, and may never more offend Thee! Ah, if one of my servants had done for me what Thou hast done, I could not bring myself to displease him. And I have dared to turn my back so often on Thee Who hast died for me.
He has done so that we may live no longer to the world, but only to that Lord Who has died for us. Christ died for all, that they also who live may not live to themselves, but unto him who died for them (2 Cor. v. 15). He has done it, that, by the love which He has shown us, He might win all the love of our hearts. For to this end Christ died and rose again, that he might be the Lord both of the dead and of the living (Rom. xiv. 9). Hence the Saints, contemplating the death of Jesus Christ, thought it very little to give their life and all things for the love of so a loving a God. How many nobles, how many princes have left relatives, riches, and country, and even kingdoms, to shut themselves away in a cloister, in order to live only to the love of Jesus Christ! How many Martyrs have sacrificed their lives! How many tender virgins, renouncing the nuptials of the great, have gone with joy to death, in order thus to make some return for the affection of a God who died for their sake! And what have you hitherto done for the sake of Jesus Christ? As He has died for the Saints — for St. Lawrence, for St. Lucy, for St. Agnes, so He has also died for you. What do you intend to do during the remaining days of life which God gives you that you may love Him? From this day forward, look frequently on the Crucifix, and in looking on it, call to mind the love which Jesus Christ has borne you, and say: Then, hast Thou, my God, died for me? Do this at least, I say, and do it often; if you do, you cannot but feel yourself sweetly constrained to love a God Who has loved you so tenderly.
O beautiful flames which have obliged a God to give His life for me, come, inflame, fill my whole heart, and destroy all affections towards created things. Ah! my beloved Redeemer, how is it possible for me to contemplate Thee, either in the Manger in Bethlehem, on the Cross on Calvary, or in the Sacrament on our Altars, and not be enamoured of Thee? My Jesus, I love Thee with my whole soul. During the remaining years of my life thou shalt be my only Good, my only Love. I have unhappily lived long enough forgetful of Thy Passion and of Thy love. I give Thee all things, and if I do not give myself to Thee as I ought, take me, and reign in my whole heart. Thy kingdom come! May my heart be the servant of Thy love. May I speak of nothing else, may I sigh and desire only to love and please Thee. Assist me always by Thy grace, that I may be faithful to Thee. In Thy merits I trust, O my Jesus. O Mother of fair love, make me ardently love thy Son Who is so amiable, and Who has loved me so tenderly.