The Love of Jesus Christ : Part 2
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Speaking, then, of the love of the Son of God for man, let us remember that when he saw on one side man lost through sin, and on the other the divine justice requiring a perfect satisfaction for the offences committed by man, who was himself unable to offer such a satisfaction, he voluntarily offered himself to make satisfaction: He was offered, because he willed it. And this humble lamb gave himself to the torturers, suffering them to lacerate his flesh, and to lead him to death, without lamenting or opening his mouth, as it was foretold: He shall be brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep is dumb before its shearer, and openeth not its mouth. St. Paul writes that Jesus Christ accepted the death of the cross to obey his Father. But let us not imagine that the Redeemer was crucified solely to obey his Father, and not with his own full will; he freely offered himself to this death, and of his own will chose to die for man, moved by the love he bore him, as he himself declares by St. John: I lay down My life; for no man will take it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself? And he said that it was the work of the Good Shepherd, to give his life for his sheep. And why was this? What obligation was there on the shepherd to give his life for the sheep? He loved us, and gave Himself for us.
This, indeed, our loving Redeemer himself declared, when he said, If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto Me thereby showing the kind of death that he would die upon the cross, as the Evangelist himself explains it : He said this, signifying by what death He would die. On these words St. John Chrysostom remarks, that he draws them as it were from the hands of a tyrant. By his death he draws us from the hands of Lucifer, who, as a tyrant, keeps us enchained as his slaves, to torment us after our death forever in hell.
Miserable had we been if Jesus Christ had not died for us! We should all have been imprisoned in hell. For us who had deserved hell, it is a great motive to us to love Jesus Christ, to think, that by his death, he has delivered us from this hell, by pouring forth his blood.
Let us, then, in passing, glance at the pains of hell, where at this hour are so many wretched souls. Oh, miserable beings! There they are sunk in a sea of fire, where they endure ceaseless agony, since in this fire they experience pains of all kinds. There they are given into the hands of devils, who, full of fury, are busied only in tormenting these miserable condemned ones. There, still more than by the fire and the other tortures, are they tormented by remorse of conscience in recollecting the sins of their life, which were the cause of their damnation. There they see the way of escape from this abyss of torments ever closed. There they find themselves forever excluded from the company of the saints, and from their country, heaven, for which they were created. But what most afflicts them, and constitutes their hell, is to see themselves abandoned by God, and condemned to be unable evermore to love him, and to look upon themselves with hatred and madness.
From this hell Jesus Christ has delivered us, redeeming us not with gold or any earthly good thing, but by giving his own life and blood upon the cross. The kings of the earth send their subjects to die in war to preserve their own security; Jesus Christ chose himself to die, in order to give safety to his creatures.
Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, Benziger Brothers, 1887, pg 324-326
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