Sunday, 13 December 2009

Meditations for Every Day of Advent - Third Sunday

Meditation XV.
The Poverty of the Infant Jesus.
Invenientes infantem . . . positum in præsepio.
“You shall find the infant laid in a manger.” – St. Luke, ii. 16.

The Holy Church, in contemplating this great mystery and prodigy of a God being born in a stable, exclaims, full of admiration, “O great mystery! O wonderful sacrament! for animals to behold the Lord lying in a manger.”1
In order to contemplate with tenderness and love the birth of Jesus, we must pray the Lord to give us a lively faith. If without faith we enter into the grotto of Bethlehem, we shall have nothing but a feeling of compassion at seeing an infant reduced to such a state of poverty that, being born in the depth of winter, he is laid in a manger of beasts, without fire, and in the midst of a cold cavern. But if we enter with faith, and consider what an excess of bounty and love it was in a God to humble himself to appear like a little child, wrapped in swaddling-clothes, placed on straw, crying and shivering with cold, unable to move, depending for subsistence on his mother’s milk, how is it possible that we should not feel ourselves gently constrained to give all our affections to this Infant God, who has reduced himself to this state to make us love him! St. Luke says that the shepherds, after having visited Jesus in the manger, returned glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.2 And yet what had they seen? Nothing more than a poor child trembling with cold on a little straw; but, being enlightened by faith, they recognized in this child the excess of divine love; and inflamed by this love they went on their way glorifying God, that they had the happiness to behold a God who had emptied himself3 and annihilated himself for the love of men.
Affections and Prayers.
O my amiable and sweet Infant! although I behold Thee so poor and lying on straw, yet I confess and adore Thee as my Lord and Creator. I know what it was that reduced Thee to so miserable a state: it was the love that Thou didst bear me. But when I remember, O my Jesus! how I have treated Thee in times past, the injuries I have committed against Thee I wonder in myself how Thou hast borne with me. Accursed sins, oh, what have you done! You have made me cause bitterness to the heart of my beloved Saviour. Oh, my dearest Redeemer, for the sake of the sufferings Thou didst endure and the tears Thou didst shed in the stable of Bethlehem, give me tears, give me a great sorrow, that may make me all my life long lament the displeasure I have caused Thee. Grant me a love for Thee, but such a love as may compensate for the offences I have committed against Thee. I love Thee, my Infant Saviour; I love Thee, my Infant God; I love Thee, my love, my life, my all. I promise Thee from this day forth to love none but Thee. Do Thou help me by Thy grace, without which I can do nothing. Mary, my hope, thou dost obtain whatever thou willest from thy Son, obtain for me his holy love; my Mother, hear me!

1“O magnum mysterium et admirabile sacramentum, ut animalia viderent Dominum natum, jacentem in praesepio!” – Off. Nat. resp. 4.
2“Reversi sunt pastores glorificantes et laudantes Deum in omnibus quæ andierantet viderant.” – Luke, ii. 20.
3“Semetipsum exinanivit!” – Phil. ii. 7.

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