Meditations for the Novena for Christmas – Dec. 23
The Love of God manifested to Men by the Birth of Jesus.
Apparuit gratia Dei Salvatoris nostri omnibus hominibus, erudiens nos, ut . . . pie vivamus in hoc sæculo, expectantes beatam spem et adventum gloriæ magni Dei et Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi.
“The grace of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men, instructing us that . . . we should live . . . godly in this world, looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” – Titus, ii. 11.
Consider that by the grace that is said here to have appeared is meant the tender love of Jesus Christ towards men,—a love that we have not merited, which therefore is called “grace.”
This love was, however, always the same in God, but did not always appear. It was at first promised in many prophecies, and foreshadowed by many figures; but at the birth of the Redeemer this divine love indeed appeared, and manifested itself by the Eternal Word showing himself to man as an infant, lying on straw, crying and shivering with cold; beginning thus to make satisfaction for us for the penalties we have deserved, and so making known to us the affection which he bore us, by giving up his life for us: In this we have known the charity of God, because he hath laid down his life for us.1 Therefore the love of our God appeared to all men.2
But why is it, then, that all men have not known it, and that even at this day so many are ignorant of it? This is the reason: The light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light.3 They have not known him, and they do not know him, because they do not wish to know him, loving rather the darkness of sin than the light of grace.
But let us endeavor not to be of the number of these unhappy souls. If in past times we have shut our eyes to the light, thinking little of the love of Jesus Christ, let us try, during the days that may remain to us in this life, to have ever before our eyes the sufferings and death of our Redeemer, in order to love him who hath loved us so much: Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.4 Thus may we justly expect, according to the divine promises, that paradise which Jesus Christ has acquired for us by his blood. At his first coming Jesus appeared as an infant, poor and humble, and showed himself on earth born in a stable, covered with miserable rags, and lying on straw; but at his second coming he will come on a throne of majesty: We shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and majesty.5 Blessed then will he be who shall have loved him, and miserable those who have not loved him.
Affections and Prayers.
O my holy Infant! now I see Thee lying on straw, poor, afflicted, and forsaken; but I know that one day Thou wilt come to judge me, seated on a throne of splendor, and attended by the angels. Forgive me, I implore Thee, before Thou dost judge me. Then Thou wilt have to conduct Thyself as a just judge; but now Thou art my Redeemer, and the Father of mercy. I have been one of those ungrateful ones who have not known Thee, because I did not choose to know Thee, and therefore, instead of being inclined to love Thee by the consideration of the love Thou hast borne me, I have only thought of satisfying my own desires, despising Thy grace and Thy love. But into Thy sacred hands I commend my soul, which I have lost; do Thou save it: Into Thy hands I commend my spirit; Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth.6 In Thee do I place all my hopes, knowing that, to ransom me from hell, Thou hast given Thy blood and Thy life: Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth.7 Thou didst not condemn me to death when I was living in sin, but hast waited for me with infinite patience, in order that, having come to myself, I might repent of having offended Thee, and might begin to love Thee, and that thus Thou mightest be able to forgive and save me. Yes, my Jesus, I will please Thee. I repent, above every other evil, of all the offences I have committed against Thee; I repent, and love Thee above all things. Do Thou save me in Thy mercy, and let it be my salvation to love Thee always in this life and in eternity. My dearest Mother Mary, recommend me to thy Son. Do thou represent to him that I am thy servant, and that I have placed all my hope in thee. He hears thee, and refuses thee nothing.