“HE CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN � AND WAS MADE MAN � SUFFERED AND WAS BURIED.”
God has created us to love Him in this life, and afterwards to enjoy Him in the next; but we ungratefully rebelled against God by sinning, and refused to obey Him, and therefore we have been deprived of Divine grace, and excluded from Paradise, and besides, condemned to the eternal pains of hell. Behold us, therefore, all lost; but this God, moved by compassion for us, resolved to send on earth a Redeemer Who should repair our great ruin.
But who shall this Redeemer be? Shall it be an Angel, or a Seraph? No; to show us the immense love that He bears us, God sends us His own Son: God sent his son in the likeness of sinful flesh.
O prodigy! O excess of the love of God–a God became Man! Did a prince of this world, seeing a dead worm, wish to restore it to life; and were he told that to do so it would be necessary that he should himself become a worm, enter its dwelling, and there at the price of his life make it a bath in his own blood, and that thus only could its life be restored, what would the reply of such a prince be? “No,” he would say: “what does it signify to me whether the worm comes to life again or not, that I should shed my blood and die to restore its life?” Of what import was it to God that men should be lost, since they had merited it by their sins? Would His happiness have been diminished thereby?
No, indeed; it was because God’s love for men was so truly great that He came upon earth and humbled Himself to take flesh from a Virgin; and taking the form of a servant became Man, –that is, He made Himself a worm like us: He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. (Phil. ii. 7). He is God like the Father –immense, omnipotent, sovereign, and in all things equal to the Father; but when He was made Man in the womb of Mary He became a creature–a servant, weak, and less than the Father. Behold Him thus humbled in the womb of Mary; there He accepted the command of His Father, Who willed that after three-and-thirty years of suffering He should die cruelly executed on a Cross: He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. (Phil. ii. 8).
Behold Him as a Child in the womb of His Mother. He there conformed Himself in all things to the will of His Father, and, inflamed with love for us, He offered Himself willingly: He was offered because it was his own will. (Is. liii. 7). He offered Himself to suffer all for our salvation. He then foresaw the scourging, and offered His body; He foresaw the thorns, and offered His head; He foresaw the nails, and offered His hands and feet; He foresaw the Cross, and offered His life. And why was He pleased to suffer so much for us ungrateful sinners? It was because He loved us: Who hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. (Apoc. i. 5). He saw us soiled with sin, and prepared us a bath in His own Blood, that we might thereby be cleansed, and become dear to God: Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us. (Eph. v. 2). He saw us condemned to death, and prepared to die Himself, that we might live; and seeing us cursed by God on account of our sins, He was pleased to charge Himself with the curses which we had deserved, that we might be saved: Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. (Gal. iii. 13).
I thank Thee, O my God, on behalf of all mankind; for if Thou hadst not thought of saving us, I and all the world would have been lost forever! I love Thee, O my dear Jesus: Thou art my Hope and my Love!
St. Francis de Paula, then, indeed had reason in considering the mystery of a God made Man and dying through love for us, to exclaim: “O charity! O charity! O charity!” Did not Faith assure us of all that the Son of God did and suffered for us, who could ever believe it? Ah, the love which Jesus Christ had and has for us indeed drives and forces us to love Him, for the charity of Christ presseth us. (2 Cor. v. 14). Tender, indeed, are the sentiments expressed by St. Francis de Sales on these words of St. Paul. He says: “Knowing, then, that Jesus, Who was truly God, has loved us, and loved us so much as to die, and to die on a Cross, for us, is not this to have our hearts under a wine-press, and to feel them forced and so strongly pressed, that love issues from them by the very violence with which they are pressed; and the greater this violence is with which they are pressed, the more sweet and amiable is it.”
But here St. John laments: He came into his own, and his own received him not. (Jo. i. 11). Why did the only-begotten Son of God become Man on earth, suffer and die for us, if it was not that we might love Him? “God became Man,” says Hugo of St. Victor, “that man might love Him more affectionately.” “Jesus Christ,” says St. Augustine, “came on earth principally that man might know how much He loved him.” And if a God loves us so much, He requires, with justice, that we should love Him. “He made known His love,” says St. Bernard, “that He might experience thine.” He has shown us the greatness of the love He bears us, that He may obtain our love at least out of gratitude.
O Eternal Word, Thou camest from Heaven on earth to become Man and to die for man, that Thou mightest be loved by man; how is it, then, that among men there are so few who love Thee? Ah, infinite beauty, amiable infinity, worthy of infinite love, behold me; I am one of those ungrateful creatures whom Thou hast loved so much, but have not yet known how to love Thee; nay even, instead of loving Thee, I have greatly offended Thee. But Thou didst become man and die to pardon sinners who detest their sins, and wish to love Thee. Lord, behold me; see, I am a sinner, it is true; but I repent of the crimes I have committed against Thee, and I desire to love Thee; pity me.
And thou, O holy Virgin, who by thy humility didst become worthy to be the Mother of God, and as such art also our Mother; the refuge, the advocate of sinners, do thou pray for me, recommend me to this Son Who loves thee so much, and refuses nothing that thou askest Him. Tell Him to pardon me; tell Him to give me His holy love; tell Him to save me; that with thee I may one day love Him face to face in Paradise. Amen.