by St. Alphonsus Liguori
With Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur


The Eternal Word From Being Lord Became a Servant
Part 2

Speed on, then, with gladness, O ye souls that love God and hope in God, speed on your way with gladness! What if Adam's sin, and still more our own sins, have wrought sad ruin on us? Let us understand that Jesus Christ, by the Redemption, has infinitely more than repaired our ruin: Where sin abounded, grace did more abound. [Rom. 5:20] Greater (says St. Leo) has been the acquisition which we have made by the grace of our Redeemer, than was the loss which we had suffered by the malice of the devil. Isaias had long ago prophesied that by means of Jesus Christ man should receive graces from God far surpassing the chastisement merited by his sins: He hath received of the hand of the Lord double for all his sins. [Isaiah 40:2] It is in this sense that Adam the commentator explains this text, as we find in Cornelius à Lapide: "God hath so given remission of sins to the Church through Christ, that she hath received double (that is manifold blessings) instead of the punishments of sin which she deserved." The Lord said: I am come that thy may have life, and may have it more abundantly. [John 10:10] I am come to give life to man, and a more abundant measure of life than what they had lost by sin. Not as the offence, so also the gift. [Rom. 5:15] Great had been the sin of man; but greater, says the Apostle, has been the gift of redemption, which has not only just sufficed for a remedy, but superabundantly: and with Him plentiful redemption. [Ps. 129:7] St. Anselm says, that the sacrifice of the life of Jesus Christ surpassed all the debts of sinners: "The life of that Man surpasses every debt which sinners owe." For this reason the Church styles the fault of Adam a happy one: "O happy fault, which deserved to have so great a Redeemer." It is true that sin has clouded the mind to the knowledge of eternal truths, and has introduced into the soul the concupiscence of sensible goods, forbidden by the Divine command; yes, but what helps and means has not Jesus Christ obtained for us by His merits, in order to procure us light and strength to vanquish all our enemies, and to advance in virtue? The holy Sacraments, the Sacrifice of Mass, prayer to God through the merits of Jesus Christ,---ah! these are indeed arms and means sufficient, not only to gain the victory over all temptation and concupiscence, but even to run forward and fly in the way of perfection. It is certain that by these very means given to us, all the Saints of the new law have become Saints. Ours, then, is the fault, if we do not avail ourselves of them.
Oh, how much more are we bound to thank Almighty God for having brought us into life after the coming of the Messias! How much greater blessings have we received after the accomplishment of redemption by Jesus Christ! How did Abraham desire; how did the prophets and patriarchs of the Old Testament long to see the Redeemer born! But they saw Him not. They deafened the heavens, so to speak, with their groans of desire and with their ardent prayers: Drop down dew, ye heavens from above, and let the clouds rain the Just, [Isaiah 45:8] was their incessant exclamation. Rain down, O heavens, and send us the Just One, to appease the wrath of that God Whom we ourselves cannot appease, because we are all sinners: Send forth, O Lord, the Lamb, the Ruler of the earth.  [Ibid. 16:1] Send, O Lord, the Lamb, Who by sacrificing Himself shall satisfy Thy justice for us, and so shall reign in the hearts of men, who are living on this earth the unhappy slaves of the devil: Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy, and grant us Thy salvation. [Ps. 84:8] Hasten and show us, O God of mercies, that greatest mercy which Thou hast already promised us, namely, our Saviour. Such were the aspirations and longing exclamations of the Saints. But for all that, during the space of four thousand years, they had not the happy lot to see the Messias born: we, however, have had this happiness. But what are we doing? What knowledge have we, to take advantage of it? Do we know how to love this amiable Redeemer Who is come at last, Who has already ransomed us from the hands of our foes, has freed us by His Own death from the eternal death which we had deserved, has thrown open Paradise for us, has provided us with so many Sacraments, and with so many aids to serve Him and to love Him in peace during this life, that we might go and enjoy Him forever in the life to come? "He was," say St. Ambrose, "wrapped up in swaddling-clothes, that you might be loosed from snares; His poverty is my patrimony; the feebleness of the Lord is my strength His tears have washed away my guilt." Very great would be your ingratitude to your God, O Christian soul, if you were not to love Him, after He has bee pleased to be bound in swaddling-clothes, that you might be released from the chains of Hell; after He had become poor, that you might be made partaker of His riches; after He has made Himself weak, to give you power over your enemies; after He has chosen to suffer and to weep, that by His tears your sins might be washed away.

But, O God! how few there are who show themselves grateful for so immense a love by faithfully loving this their Redeemer! Alas! the greater part of men, after so incomparable a benefit, after so many great mercies
and so much love, still say to God: Lord, we will not serve Thee; we would rather be slaves of the devil and condemned to Hell than be Thy servants. Listen how God upbraids such thankless wretches: Thou hast burst My bands, and thou saidst: I will not serve. [Jer. 2:20] What say you, my brother? have you too been one of these? But tell me, whilst living far from God and the slave of the devil, tell me, have you felt happy? Have you been at peace? Ah, no, the Divine words can never fail: Because thou didst not serve the Lord thy God with joy and gladness of heart, thou shalt serve thy enemy in hunger and thirst, and nakedness, and in want of all things. [Deut. 28:47] Since thou hast preferred to serve thy enemy rather than to serve thy
God, behold how that tyrant has treated thee. He has made thee groan as a slave in chains, poor, afflicted, and deprived of every interior consolation. But come, rise; God speaks to thee whilst thou mayest still be freed from the fetters of death which bind thee: Loose the bonds from off thy neck, O captive daughter of Sion. [Isaiah 52:2] Make haste while time is left, unbind thyself, poor soul, who hast become the voluntary slave of Hell, strike off these cursed chains that hold thee fast as a prey for Hell, and bind thyself instead with My chains of gold, chains of love, chains of peace, chains of salvation: her bands are a healthful binding. [Ecclus. 6:31] But in what manner are souls bound God? By love: Have charity, which is the bond of perfection. [Col. 3:14] A soul that always walks by the single way of the fear of punishment, and from this single motive avoids sin, is always in great danger of making a relapse before long into sin; but he that attaches himself to God by love is sure not to lose Him as long as he loves Him. And for this reason we must continually beg God to grant us the gift of His holy love, always praying and saying: O Lord, keep me united with Thee, never suffer me to be separated from Thee and from Thy love. The fear which we ought rather to desire and beg of God is filial fear, the fear of ever displeasing this our good Lord and Father. Let us also always have recourse to most holy Mary, our Mother, that she may obtain for us the grace to love nothing else but God, and that she would so closely unite us by love to her Blessed Son, that we may never more see ourselves separated from Him by sin.

 Affections and Prayers

O my Jesus! Thou hast been pleased to become a servant for love of me, and in order to release me from the chains of hell; and not only the servant of Thy Father, but of men and of executioners, even to the laying down of Thy life; and I, for the love of some wretched and poisonous pleasure, have so often forsaken Thy service, and have become the slave of the devil.
A thousand times over I curse those moments in which, by a wicked abuse of my free-will, I despised Thy grace, O infinite Majesty! In pity pardon me, and bind me to Thyself with those delightful chains of love with which Thou keepest Thy chosen souls in closest union with Thee. I love Thee, O Incarnate Word; I love Thee, O my sovereign Good! I have now no other desire but to love Thee; and I have only one fear, that of seeing myself deprived of Thy love. O never suffer me to be separated from Thee again. I beseech Thee, O my Jesus! by all the sufferings of Thy life and of Thy death, do not suffer me ever more to leave Thee: "Suffer me not to be separated from Thee, suffer me not to be separated from Thee." Ah, my God, after all the favors Thou hast shown me, after pardoning me so repeatedly, and when now Thou dost enlighten me with so clear a knowledge, and invitest me to love Thee with so tender an affection, if I should ever be so wretched as again to turn my back upon Thee, how could I presume ever to receive pardon afresh? and not rather be afraid that in that same instant Thou would cast me headlong into Hell? Ah, never permit it; let me say again: "Suffer me not to be separated from Thee."
O Mary, my refuge, thou hast hitherto been my sweet advocate; for it was thou that didst prevail on God still to wait for me and to pardon me with so much mercy; help me at present obtain for me the grace to die, and to die a thousand times, sooner than ever sin to lose the grace of my God.



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