The First Sunday of
EXTRACT FROM The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus, St. Alphonsus Liguori with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur
Et incarnatus est du Spiritu Sancto . . . Et homo factus est.
"And was incarnate of the Holy Ghost, and was made man."-----Symbol. Const.
Consider that God, having created the first man, in order that he might serve Him and love Him in this life, and be conducted afterwards to reign with Him forever in Paradise, enriched him for this end with knowledge and grace. But ungrateful man rebelled against God, refusing Him the obedience which he owed Him in justice and gratitude; and thus, miserable sinner, was he left with all his posterity as a rebel, deprived of Divine grace, and forever excluded from Paradise. Behold, then, after this ruin, caused by sin, all men lost! All were living in blindness, or in the darkness of the shadow of death. The devil had dominion over them, and Hell destroyed innumerable victims amongst them.But God, seeing men reduced to this miserable state, was moved with pity, and resolved to save them. And how? He did not send an Angel, a seraph; but to show to the world the immense love that he bore to these ungrateful worms, He sent His Own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. He sent His Own Son to become Man, and to clothe Himself with the same flesh as sinful men, in order that, by His suffering and death, He might satisfy the Divine justice for their crimes, and thus deliver them from eternal death; and, reconciling them with His Divine Father, might obtain for them Divine grace, and might render them worthy to enter into life eternal.
Consider, on the one hand, the immense ruin that sin brings upon souls, as it deprives them of the friendship of God and of Paradise, and condemns them to an eternity of pain. And, on the other hand, consider the infinite love which God showed in this great work of the Incarnation of the Word, causing His Only-begotten Son to sacrifice His Divine life by the hands of executioners on a Cross, in a sea of sorrows and of infamy, to obtain for us pardon and life eternal. Oh, in contemplating this great mystery and this excess of Divine love, how can we do otherwise than exclaim: O infinite goodness! O infinite mercy! O infinite love! for a God to become Man, and to die for me!
Affections and PrayersBut how is it my Jesus, that after Thou hast repaired this ruin of sin by Thy own death, I have so often willfully renewed it again by the many offenses I have committed against Thee? Thou hast saved me at so great a cost, and I have so often chosen to damn myself, in losing Thee, O infinite Good! But what Thou hast said gives me confidence that when the sinner who has turned his back upon Thee is converted to Thee, Thou wilt not refuse to embrace him: Turn ye to Me, and I will turn to you. Thou hast also said, If any man shall . . . open to Me the door, I will come in to him. Behold, Lord, I am one of these rebels, an ungrateful traitor, who has often turned my back upon Thee, and driven Thee from my soul; but now I repent with all my heart for having thus ill-used Thee and despised Thy grace; I repent of it, and love Thee above everything. Behold, the door of my heart is already open; enter Thou, but enter never to leave it again. I know well that Thou wilt never leave me, if I do not again drive Thee away; but this is my fear, and this is the grace which I ask of Thee, and which I hope always to ask; let me die rather than be guilty of this fresh and still greater ingratitude. My dearest Redeemer, I do not deserve to love Thee, after all the offenses that I have committed against Thee; but for Thy own merits' sake I ask of Thee the gift of Thy holy love, and therefore I beseech Thee make me know the great good Thou art, the love Thou hast borne me, and how much Thou hast done to oblige me to love Thee. Ah, my God and Savior, let me no longer live ungrateful to Thy great goodness. My Jesus, I will never leave Thee again; I have already offended Thee enough. It is only right that I should employ the remaining years of my life in loving Thee and pleasing Thee. My Jesus, my Jesus, help me; help a sinner that wishes to love Thee. O Mary, my Mother, thou hast all power with Jesus, seeing thou art His Mother; beg of Him to forgive me; beg of Him to enchain me with His holy love. Thou art my hope; in thee do I confide.
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