Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Love so Great It Will Be the Admiration of the Ages

(The following is an excerpt from the classic book, The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, by St. Alphonsus Liguori.)
We read in history of a proof of love so prodigious that it will be the admiration of all ages.
There was once a king, lord of many kingdoms, who had one only son, so beautiful, so holy, so amiable, that he was the delight of his father, who loved him as much as himself. This young prince had a great affection for one of his slaves; so much so that, the slave having committed a crime for which he had been condemned to death, the prince offered himself to die for the slave; the father, being jealous of justice, was satisfied to condemn his beloved son to death, in order that the slave might remain free from the punishment that he deserved: and thus the son died a malefactor's death, and the slave was freed from punishment.
This fact, the like of which has never happened in this world, and never will happen, is related in the Gospels, where we read that the Son of God, the Lord of the universe, seeing that man was condemned to eternal death in punishment of his sins, chose to take upon Himself human flesh, and thus to pay by His death the penalty due to man: He was offered because it was His own will (Is. 53:7).  And his Eternal Father caused him to die upon the cross to save us miserable sinners: He spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all (Rom. 8:32). What dost thou think, O devout soul, of this love of the Son and of the Father?
Thou didst, then, O my beloved Redeemer, choose by Thy death to sacrifice Thyself in order to obtain the pardon of my sins. And what return of gratitude shall I then make to Thee? Thou hast done too much to oblige me to love Thee; I should indeed be most ungrateful to Thee if I did not love Thee with my whole heart. Thou hast given for me Thy divine life; I, miserable sinner that I am, give Thee my own life. Yes, I will at least spend that period of my life that remains to me only in loving Thee, obeying Thee, and pleasing Thee.
O men, men! let us love this our Redeemer, who, being God, has not disdained to take upon Himself our sins, in order to satisfy by His sufferings for the chastisement which we have deserved: Surely He hath borne our infirmities, and carried our sorrows (Is. 53:4)
St. Augustine says that our Lord in creating us formed us by virtue of His power, but in redeeming us He has saved us from death by means of His sufferings: "He created us in his strength; he sought us back in his weakness."
How much do I not owe Thee, O Jesus my Saviour! Oh, if I were to give my blood a thousand times over,--if I were to spend a thousand lives for Thee,--it would yet be nothing. Oh, how could anyone that meditated much on the love which Thou hast shown him in Thy Passion, love anything else but Thee? Through the love with which Thou didst love us on the cross, grant me the grace to love Thee with my whole heart. I love Thee, infinite Goodness; I love Thee above every other good; and I ask nothing more of Thee but Thy holy love.

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