Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Third Day of Christmas

Meditation III: Jesus in Swaddling-clothes.

Imagine that you see Mary, having now brought forth her Son, taking him with reverence in her arms, adoring him as her God, and then wrapping him up in swaddling-clothes: She wrapped Him up in swaddling-clothes (Luke 2:7). The Holy Church says the same in the Office of the Passion:
"His limbs, wrapped in swaddling-clothes,
The Virgin Mother binds"

Behold the Infant Jesus, who obediently offers his little hands and feet, and allows himself to be swaddled. Consider that every time the Holy Infant allowed himself to be swathed he thought of the cords with which he should one day be bound and led captive in the garden, and of those also with which he should be tied to the column, and of the nails which should fasten him to the cross; and thinking of these things, he willingly allowed himself to be bound, in order to deliver our souls from the chains of hell.

Bound, then, in these swaddling-clothes, and turning towards us, Jesus invites us to unite ourselves to him with the holy bonds of love. And turning to his eternal Father, he says: My Father, men have abused their liberty, and by rebelling against you have made themselves the slaves of sin; but I will make satisfaction for their disobedience, and will be bound and confined in these swaddling-clothes. Bound with these, I offer you my liberty, in order that man may be delivered from the slavery of the devil. I accept these swaddling-clothes; they are dear to me, because they are the symbols of the cords with which, from this moment forth, I offer myself to be one day bound and led to death for the salvation of men.

His bands are a healthful binding (Ecclus. 6:31). The bands of Jesus were the healthful binding, to heal the wounds of our souls. Therefore, O my Jesus, you would be bound in swaddling-clothes for the love of me. "O Love, how great is your bond, which could bind a God." O divine Love, you alone could make my God your prisoner. And shall I then, O Lord, refuse to allow myself to be bound by your holy love? Shall I for the future have the courage to detach myself from your sweet and amiable chains? And for what? To make myself a slave of hell? O my Lord, you remain bound up in this manger for the love of me; I desire always to remain bound to you.

St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi said that the bands that we ought to take should be a firm resolution of uniting ourselves to God by means of love; detaching ourselves at the same time from all affection for anything that is not God. For this reason, also, it seems that our loving Jesus has allowed himself to be, as it were, bound and made a prisoner in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, under the sacramental species, in order that he might behold his beloved souls made also prisoners of his love.

Affections and Prayers.

And what fear can I have of your chastisement, O my beloved Infant, now that I see you bound in the swaddling-clothes, depriving yourself, as it were, of the power of raising your hands to punish me? You give me to understand by these bands that you will not chastise me, if I will detach myself from the chains of my vices and bind myself to you. Yes, my Jesus, I will bind myself. I repent with all my heart of having separated myself from you, by abusing that liberty which you have given me. You offer me a more desirable liberty; a liberty which delivers me from the chains of the devil, and places me among the children of God. You have given yourself up to be imprisoned in these swaddling-clothes for the love of me; I will be in future a prisoner of your infinite love. O blessed chains, O beautiful emblems of salvation, which bind souls to God, bind also my poor heart; but bind it so fast that it may never be able to free itself from the love of this sovereign Good. My Jesus, I love you; I bind myself to you; I give you my whole heart, my whole will. No, I will never leave you again, my beloved Lord. O my Savior, who, to pay my debts, would not only be wrapped by Mary in swaddling-clothes, but even be bound as a criminal by the executioners, and thus bound would go along the streets of Jerusalem, led to death as an innocent lamb to the slaughter-house; O you who would be nailed to the cross, and did not leave it until you had given up your life upon it,—I beseech you, permit me not to be ever separated again from you, so that I should again find myself deprived of your favor and of your love.

O Mary, who once bound in swaddling-clothes your innocent Son, bind me also, a miserable sinner; bind me to Jesus, so that I may never again separate myself from his feet, that I may always live and die bound to him, so that one day I may have the happiness to enter into that blessed country where I shall never be able and shall never be afraid of detaching myself from his holy love.

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