Monday, January 5, 2009

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

MEDITATION XII: The Abasement of Jesus.

The eternal Word descends on earth to save man; and whence does he descend? His going out is from the end of heaven (Ps. 18:7). He descends from the bosom of his divine Father, where from eternity he was begotten in the brightness of the saints. And where does he descend? He descends into the womb of a virgin, a child of Adam, which in comparison with the bosom of God is an object of horror; wherefore the Church sings, "You did not abhor the Virgin’s womb." Yes, because the Word, being in the bosom of the Father, is God like the Father—is immense, omnipotent, most blessed and supreme Lord, and equal in everything to the Father. But in the womb of Mary he is a creature, small, weak, afflicted, a servant inferior to the Father, Taking the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7).

It is related as a great prodigy of humility in St. Alexis that, although he was the son of a Roman gentleman, he chose to live as a servant in his father’s house. But how is the humility of this saint to be compared with the humility of Jesus Christ? Between the son and the servant of the father of St. Alexis there was, it is true, some difference; but between God and the servant of God there is an infinite difference. Besides, this Son of God having become the servant of his Father in obedience to him, made himself also the servant of his creatures; that is to say, of Mary and Joseph: And he was subject to them (Luke 2:51). Moreover, he made himself even a servant of Pilate, who condemned him to death, and he was obedient to him, and accepted it; he became a servant to the executioners, who scourged him, crowned him with thorns, and crucified him: and he humbly obeyed them all, and yielded himself into their hands.

O God! and shall we, after this, refuse to submit our selves to the service of so loving a Savior, who, to save us, has subjected himself to so painful and degrading a slavery? And rather than be the servants of this so great and so loving a Lord, shall we be content to be slaves of the devil, who does not love his servants, but hates them and treats them like a tyrant, making them miserable and wretched in this world and in the next? But if we have been guilty of this great folly, why do we not quickly give up this unhappy servitude? Courage, then, since we have been delivered by Jesus Christ from the slavery of hell; let us now embrace and bind around us with love those sweet chains, which will render us servants and lovers of Jesus Christ, and hereafter obtain for us the crown of the eternal kingdom amongst the blessed in Paradise.

Affections and Prayers.

My beloved Jesus, you are the Sovereign of heaven and earth; but for the love of me you made yourself a servant even of the executioners who tore your flesh, pierced your head, and finally left you nailed on the cross to die of sorrow. I adore you as my God and Lord, and I am ashamed to appear before you when I remember how often, for the sake of some miserable pleasure, I have broken your holy bonds, and have told you to your face that I would not serve you. Ah, you may justly reproach me: You have burst my bands, and you said: I will not serve (Jer. 2:20). But still, O my Savior, your merits and your goodness, which cannot despise a heart that repents and humbles itself, give me courage to hope for pardon: A contrite and humble heart, O God, you will not despise (Is. 50:19). I confess, my Jesus, that I have offended you greatly; I confess that I deserve a thousand hells for the sins that I have committed against you; chasten me as you see fit, but do not deprive me of your grace and love. I repent above every other evil for having despised you. I love you with my whole heart. I propose from this day forth to desire to serve you and love you alone. Bind me by your merits with the chains of your holy love, and never suffer that I see myself released from them again. I love you above everything, O my Deliverer, and I would prefer being your servant to being master of the whole world. And of what avail would all the world be to him who lives deprived of your grace? My sweetest Jesus, permit me not to separate myself from you, permit me not to separate myself from you. This grace I ask of you, and I intend always to ask it; and I beg of you to grant me this day the grace to repeat continually to the end of my life this prayer: My Jesus, grant that I may never again separate myself from your love.

I ask this favor of you also, O Mary, my Mother: help me by your intercession, that I may never separate myself again from my God.

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