Tenderness of the Heart of Jesus for Men.
To dazzling qualities and magnificent titles Jesus Christ joins a tenderness for us, which appears excessive. "My delights are to be with the children of men." Deliciae meae esse cum filiis hominum (Prov. viii. 31). His gentleness is so amiable, that it charmed His most deadly enemies. When a woman taken in adultery is brought to His feet, He refuses to condemn her, and covers her accusers with shame. He allows Himself to be approached by sinners; He mingles with them; He allows Himself to be called, and is, in some sort, the friend of sinners. He sits at the table of publicans and sinners. Whom do you see at His feet, which she appears to have chosen as her place of refuge? Magdalen, a sinner by profession, whom, in return for one single act of love, He pardoned a whole life of disorders and scandals. It was not Magdalen that made the first approach towards this good Master; He knocked. He waited at the door of her heart, before He saw her bending at His feet, bathing them with her tears, and wiping them with her hair. Many sins are forgiven her, because she has loved much; but far more still because she has been much beloved.
Jesus extends His care even to little children; they are incapable as yet of knowing Him, but His gentleness attracts them to Him. The Apostles repel them; suffer them, He says, suffer little children to come to me; and He caresses them, blesses them, and deigns to take them into His sacred arms. Should their father and mother abandon them, He will take care of them; for though even a mother should forget her children, He will never forget them. See also how He receives the prodigal, who, prostrate at His feet, confesses that He is no longer worthy to be called His son; how He runs to meet him, folds him in His arms, bathes him with His tears, and fully restores him at the first token of repentance, to his inheritance and his father’s love. This incomparable Pastor passed through the land, scattering his benefits on every side. Pertransiit benefaciendo. His fold, alas, presents too many sick; with His own hand He dresses their sores, heals their wounds, and pours in oil and wine; He restores sight to the blind; at His command the paralytic and lame arise and walk. A mother mourns the loss of her only child; the Heart of Jesus is touched at the sight; He knows what sorrow and tears so many fondly loved children will cost Him by falling into the frightful death of sin, and forthwith says, "Young man I say to thee, arise!" and restores him to his mother.
See Him seated by the well of Jacob, wearied with His journey; He is waiting for the Samaritan woman; His Heart seeks for her, and leads her to come in search of the waters which spring up to eternal life. He excites in her soul a heavenly thirst, to which she had been hitherto a stranger; He reveals to this great sinner the secret of His divine mission. See Him at the grave of Lazarus, whom He deigns to call His friend. He weeps, and the Jews cannot refrain from exclaiming in admiration; "Behold how He loved him!" Ecce quomodo amabat eum (St. John xi. 36). A little later, and the approaching ruin of Jerusalem, that guilty city, which is soon to demand His death, will force from Him with tears, that touching lamentation, "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! how often would I have gathered together thy children as the hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and thou wouldst not!"
What is His behavior with His Apostles? With what patience does He bear with them? Judas betrays Him, and He deigns still to address Him by the gentle name of friend; Amice, ad quid venisti? (St. Matt. xxvi. 50). It is the name He had given them all in the touching discourse which He addressed to them after the Supper, when He said to them; "I will not now call you servants, hut I have called you friends." Jam non dicam vos servos, vos autem dixi amicos (St. John xv. 15). Peter denies Him, and, without complaint or reproach, by the sweetness of a single look, Jesus melts the unfaithful Apostle into tears. In a word, the whole life of our Blessed Savior is nothing but gentleness and love for men.
But these toils, labors, and watches are not yet enough. This amiable Savior has said; "The good Shepherd gives His life for His sheep," Jesus will give His life, and will suffer Himself to be put to death by His sheep for them. Before completing His sacrifice, having loved His own who were in the world. He loved them to the end. He assembles His Apostles, and at His last supper, what does He do? Ah, whoever knows this gift of God, can find no expression to speak of it worthily. O loving invention of that amiable Heart, above all His works! Other shepherds feed themselves at the cost of the lives of their sheep, but Jesus finds a means of giving Himself as food to His; He loves them to such an excess, that He would become one with each of them, and remain even to the end of the world as the comforter and companion of their exile.
And yet these ungrateful sheep have attacked their Shepherd; they have reduced Him to such a condition, that He can say with truth, that from head to foot He is but one wound. Will Jesus avenge Himself upon His sheep? Yes, by loading them with fresh favors. He is on the point of breathing His last, He has nothing remaining of Himself. He has given, He has sacrificed all. But He has yet a Mother; He will give her to us to be our own. Jesus looks down from His cross upon His beloved disciple, who, during the Supper, had reposed upon His Heart; "Behold Thy Mother" He says to him; and Mary adopts us for her children. He died for the sins of men. He will rise again for their justification, to give an incontestable proof of His life and death. He will ascend to heaven and pour down His graces in greater abundance upon His favored people. The most precious gift among His treasures. He sends down His holy Spirit upon them; and He ceases not even now to make His wounds, and especially that of His Sacred Heart, plead like eloquent mouths for mercy upon sinners, and for grace and love for the just.
Practice: One day, as St. Gertrude was laying before our Lord a trouble which sensibly afflicted her, our Divine Master, making her repose upon His Heart, said to her; "It is here that you will live sheltered from all affliction; but every time that you abandon this spot, you will be again seized with bitterness of heart, as a salutary antidote to remind you that I am the only all-powerful Comforter." Profit by this lesson; in all your doubts, distresses, and affliction; address yourself to the Heart of Jesus, as a child to its parent, as a friend to a friend, beseeching Him to be your light, your support, your comforter, and not to allow you to find peace or consolation except in Him.
Ejaculatory Prayer: I have found the Heart of my King, my Brother, my loving friend Jesus; what more can I desire in heaven, or seek upon earth? Inveni cor regis, patris, et amici benigni Jesu: quid mihi est in coelo, et quid volui super terram? (St, Bernard).
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.