The Love of Jesus Christ : Part 5
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Jesus Christ, then, died for every one of us, in order that every one of us might live only to his Redeemer, who died for love of him. Christ died for us all, that both they who live should live no longer to themselves, but to Him who died for them and rose again. He that lives for himself directs all his desires, fears, and pains, and places all his happiness in himself. But he that lives to Jesus Christ places all his desires in loving and pleasing him ; all his joys in gratifying him ; all his fears are that he should displease him. He is only afflicted when he sees Jesus despised, and he only rejoices in seeing him loved by others. This it is to live to Jesus Christ, and this he justly claims from us all. To gain this he has bestowed all the pains which he suffered for love of us.
Does he ask too much in this ? No, says St. Gregory, he cannot ask too much, when he has given such tokens of his love to us, that he seems to have become a fool for our sake. Without reserve he has given himself wholly for us ; he has, therefore, a right to require that we should give ourselves wholly to him, and should fix all our love upon him; and if we take from him any portion of it, by loving anything either apart from him or not for his sake, he has reason to complain of us; for then we do not love him as we should, says St. Augustine.
And what but creatures can we love except Jesus Christ ? And, in comparison with Jesus Christ, what are creatures but worms of the earth, dust, smoke, and vanity? To St. Clement, Pope, was offered a heap of silver, gold, and gems, if he would renounce Jesus Christ ; the saint, however, gave only a sigh, and then exclaimed, “O my Jesus, Thou infinite good! how dost
Thou endure to be esteemed by men as less than the rubbish of this earth?” “No,” says St. Bernard, ” it was not rashness which made the martyrs encounter hot irons, nails, and the most cruel deaths; it was love for Jesus Christ, when they saw him dead upon the cross.” ‘ For us all the example of St. Mark and St. Marcellian is of value, who, when they were fastened with nails through their hands and feet, were rebuked by the tyrants as fools for suffering so cruel a torment rather than renounce Jesus Christ; while they replied that they had never known greater delights than they now experienced when transfixed with these nails. And all saints, in order to give pleasure to Jesus Christ, who was thus tormented and despised for our sake, gladly embrace poverty, persecutions, contempt, infirmities, pains, and death. Souls betrothed to Jesus Christ upon the cross know nothing more glorious to them than to bear the signs of the crucified, which are his sufferings.
Let us hear what St. Augustine says to us: “To you it is not lawful to love a little; let him who was wholly fixed upon the cross for you be wholly fixed in your hearts.” Let us, therefore, unite ourselves wholly to St. Paul, and say with him, “I am crucified with Christ. I live, and yet not I, for Christ liveth in me, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” On this St. Bernard remarks, “It is as if he had said. To all other things I am dead ; I have no sensation, I pay no regard; but the things which are of Christ, these find me a living man, and prepared to act upon them. Therefore St. Paul says, “To me to live is Christ” meaning by these brief words, “Jesus Christ is my life, for he is all my thoughts, all my intentions, all my hope, all my desire, because he is all my love.” It is a sure promise; if we are dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us. The kings of the earth, after a victory over their enemies, confer a part of all they have gained upon those who have fought on their side. Thus does Jesus Christ on the day of judgment; he gives a share of the blessings of heaven to all who have toiled and suffered for his glory.
The Apostle says, If we are dead with Him, we shall also live with him. To die with Christ means the denial of ourselves, that is, of our own inclinations, which, if we do not deny, we shall come to deny Jesus Christ, who will justly deny us on the day of account. And here we must remark, that we not only deny Jesus Christ when we deny the faith, but also when we refuse to obey him in anything he desires of us; as, for example, when, for love of him, we will not forgive an injury we have received, when we give way to the love of vain honor, when we will not break through a friendship which imperils the friendship of Jesus Christ, or yield to the fear of being counted ungrateful, while our first gratitude is due to Jesus Christ, who has given his blood and life for us, which no creature whatever has done for us. Divine love! How is it that thou art despised by men? O man! look at this cross of the Son of God, who, as an innocent lamb, sacrifices himself to pay for thy sins, and thus to gain thy love! Look at him, look at him and love him!
O my Jesus, O infinitely lovely! Grant that I may no longer live ungrateful to so great a good ! For the past I have lived in forgetfulness of Thy love, and of all Thou hast suffered for me; but henceforth I would think of nothing but loving Thee. O wounds of Jesus, stricken with love! O blood of Jesus, inebriated with love! O death of Jesus! Cause me to die to every love which is not love for him. O Jesus! I love Thee above everything. I love Thee with all my soul; I love Thee more than myself. I love Thee, and because I love Thee, I would die of grief because I have so often turned my back upon Thee, and have despised Thy grace. By Thy merits, O my crucified Saviour, give me Thy love, and make me all Thine own.
O Mary, my hope! Make me love Jesus Christ, and I ask nothing more.
Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, Benziger Brothers, 1887, pg 332-336