Meditations for the Novena for Christmas – Dec. 17
Bitterness of the Heart of Jesus in the Womb of his Mother.
Hostiam et oblationem noluisti; corpus autem aptasti mihi.
“Sacrifice and oblation Thou wouldest not; but a body Thou hast fitted to Me.” – Heb. x. 5.
Consider the great bitterness with which the heart of the Infant Jesus must have felt itself afflicted and oppressed in the womb of Mary at the first moment when his Father proposed to his consideration all the series of contempt, sorrow, and agonies which he was to suffer during his life, to deliver men from their miseries: In the morning He wakeneth my ear,1 and I do not resist; I have given my body to the strikers.2
Thus did Jesus speak by the mouth of the prophet: In the morning He wakeneth my ear; that is to say, from the first moment of my conception my Father made me feel that it was his will that I should lead a life of sorrows, and in the end should be sacrificed on the cross: And I do not resist; I have given my body to the strikers. And all this I accepted for your salvation, O ye souls of men, and from that time forth I gave up my body to the scourges, to the nails, and to the death of the cross.
Consider that whatever Jesus Christ suffered in his life and in his Passion, was all placed before him whilst he was yet in the womb of Mary, and he accepted everything that was proposed to him with delight; but in accepting all this, and in overcoming the natural repugnance of sense, O my God, what anguish and oppression did not the innocent heart of Jesus suffer! Well did he understand what he was first of all to endure, shut up for nine months in the dark prison of the womb of Mary; in suffering the shame and the sorrows of his birth, being born in a cold grotto that was a stable for beasts; in having afterwards to lead for thirty years an humble life in the shop of an artisan; in considering that he was to be treated by men as ignorant, as a slave, as a seducer, and as one guilty of death, and of the most infamous and painful death that ever was allotted to the most worthless of criminals.
All this did our dearest Redeemer accept every moment; but each moment that he accepted it he suffered at once all the the pains and humiliations that he would afterwards have to endure even unto death. The very knowledge of his divine dignity made him feel still more the injuries that he would have to receive from men: All the day long my shame is before me.3 He had continually before his eyes his shame, especially that confusion which he should one day feel at seeing himself stripped naked, scourged, and suspended by three iron nails; and so to end his life in the midst of the insults and curses of those very men for whom he was to die: Becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.4 And for what? To save us miserable and ungrateful sinners.
Affections and Prayers.
My beloved Redeemer, oh, how much did it cost Thee, even from Thy first entrance into the world, to raise me from the ruin which I have brought on myself by my sins! Thou hast consented to be treated as the lowest of slaves, in order to deliver me from the slavery of the devil, to whom I had willingly sold myself by sin; and yet, knowing all this, I have had the boldness to afflict continually Thy most amiable heart, which has loved me so much! But since Thou, who art so innocent, and art my God, hast accepted such a painful life and death, I accept for Thy love, O my Jesus, every trouble that shall come to me from Thy hands. 1 accept it and embrace it, because it comes from those hands which were once pierced through, in order to deliver me from the hell which I have so often deserved. Thy love, O my Redeemer! in offering Thyself to suffer so much for me, does more than oblige me to accept for Thy sake every sorrow, every humiliation. O my Lord! for Thy own merit’s sake, give me Thy holy love; Thy love will render all sufferings and ignominy sweet and pleasant to me. I love Thee above everything: I love Thee with my whole heart; I love Thee more than myself. But during Thy whole life how many and what great proofs of Thy love didst Thou not give me; and yet, ungrateful that I am, how many years have I not lived in the world without giving Thee any proofs of my love! I dread appearing before Thee when Thou shalt come to judge me, poor as I now am, without having done anything for the love of Thee. But what can I do without Thy grace? I can do nothing but pray that Thou wilt succor me; but even this prayer comes simply from Thy grace. O my Jesus! help me through the merits of Thy sufferings, and of the blood Thou hast shed for me. Most holy Mary, recommend me to thy Son, for the love that thou bearest him. Behold, I am one of those sheep for which thy Son has died.