The Love of Jesus Christ : Part 3
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Behold Jesus, then, presented by the scribes and priests to Pilate as a malefactor, that he might judge him and condemn him to the death of the cross; and see how they follow him, in order to see him condemned and crucified. Oh, marvellous thing, cries St. Augustine, to see the judge judged; to see justice condemned; to see life dying! 1 And for what cause were these marvels accomplished, except through the love which Jesus Christ bore to men? He loved us, and gave Himself for us? Oh that these words of St. Paul were ever before our eyes! Truly then would every affection for earthly things depart from our heart, and we should think only of loving our Redeemer, reflecting that it was love which brought him to pour forth all his blood, to make for us a bath of salvation. He hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood. St. Bernardine of Sienna says that Jesus Christ from the cross looked at every single sin of every one of us, and offered his blood for every one of them. In a word, love brought the Lord of all to appear the most vile and low of all things upon earth.
“O power of love!” cries St. Bernard ; “the Supreme God of all is made the lowest of all! Who hath done this? Love, forgetting its dignity, powerful in its affections. Love triumphs over divinity.” Love hath done this, because, in order to make itself known to the beloved, it hath brought the loving one to lay aside his dignity, and to do that alone which aids and pleases the beloved. Therefore, St. Bernard says that God, who can be conquered by none, causes himself to be conquered by the love which he bore for men.
We must further reflect that whatever Jesus Christ suffered in his Passion, he suffered for each one of us individually ; on which account St. Paul says, I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself for me. And what the Apostle said, every one of us may say; wherefore St. Augustine writes that man was redeemed at such a price that he seems to be of equal value with God. The saint also goes on to say, “Thou hast loved me, not as Thyself, but more than Thyself, since, to deliver me from death, Thou hast been willing to die for me.”
But since Jesus could have saved us by a single drop of his blood, why did he pour it all forth in torments, even so as to die of mere agony upon the cross ? “Yes,” says St. Bernard, “what a drop might have done, he chose to do with a stream, in order to show us the excessive love he bore us.” He calls it excessive, as Moses and Elias on Mount Thabor called the Passion of the Redeemer an excess, — an excess of mercy and love ; They spoke of His excess, which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem St. Augustine, speaking of the Passion of our Lord, says “that his mercy exceeded the debt of our sins.” Thus, the value of the death of Jesus Christ being infinite, infinitely exceeded the satisfaction due by us for our sins to the divine justice. Truly had the Apostle cause to say, God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ And what St. Paul says, we may all say; what greater glory can we have, or hope for in the world, than to see a God dying for love of us?
O Eternal God, I have dishonored Thee by my sins; but Jesus, by making satisfaction for me by his death has more than abundantly restored the honor due to Thee- for the love of Jesus, then, have mercy upon me. And Thou, my Redeemer, who hast died for me, in order to oblige me to love Thee, grant that I may love Thee. For, having despised Thy grace and Thy love I have deserved to be condemned to be able to love Thee no more. But, O my Jesus, give me every punishment but this And therefore, I pray Thee, consign me not to hell’ for in hell I cannot love Thee. Cause me to love Thee and then chastise me as Thou wilt. Deprive me of everything, but not of Thyself. I accept every infirmity, every ignominy, every pain that thou willest me to suffer; it is enough that I love Thee. Now I know, by the light Thou hast given me, that Thou art most worthy of love, and hast so much loved me: I trust to live no longer without loving Thee. For the time lost I have loved creatures, and have turned my back upon Thee, the infinite good ; but now I say to Thee, that I would love Thee alone, and nothing else. O my beloved Saviour, if Thou seest that at any future time I should cease to love Thee, I pray Thee to cause me first to die; and I shall be content to die before I am separated from Thee. .
O holy Virgin Mary and Mother of God, help me with thy prayers; obtain for me, that I may never cease to love my Jesus, who died for me and thee, my queen, who hast already obtained for me so many mercies.
Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, Benziger Brothers, 1887, pg 326-329
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