Grandeur of the Mystery of Incarnation.
Et verbum caro factum est.
“And the Word was made flesh.” – St. John, i. 14.
Our Lord sent St. Augustine to write upon the heart of St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi the words, And the Word was made flesh. Oh, let us also pray the Lord to enlighten our minds, and to make us understand what an excess and what a miracle of love this is, that the eternal Word, the Son of God, should have become man for the love of us.
The holy Church is struck with awe at the contemplation of this great mystery: I considered Thy works and was afraid.1 If God had created a thousand other worlds, a thousand times greater and more beautiful than the present, it is certain that this work would be infinitely less grand than the incarnation of the Word: He hath showed might in His arm.2 To execute the great work of the Incarnation, it required all the omnipotence and infinite wisdom of God, in order to unite human nature to a divine person, and that a divine person should so humble himself as to take upon him human nature. Thus God became man, and man became God; and hence, the divinity of the Word being united to the soul and body of Jesus Christ, all the actions of this Man-God became divine: his prayers were divine, his sufferings divine, his infant cries divine, his tears divine, his steps divine, his members divine, his very blood divine, which became, as it were, a fountain of health to wash out all our sins, and a sacrifice of infinite value to appease the justice of the Father, who was justly offended with men.
And who, then, are these men? Miserable, ungrateful, and rebellious creatures. And yet for these God becomes man; subjects himself to human miseries; suffers and dies to save these unworthy sinners: He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.3 O holy faith! If faith did not assure us of it, who would believe that a God of infinite majesty should abase himself so far as to become a worm like us, in order to save us at the cost of so much suffering and disgrace, and of so cruel and shameful a death?
“O grace! O power of love!”4 cries St. Bernard. O grace, which men could not even have imagined, if God himself had not thought of granting it to us! O divine love, which can never be fathomed! O mercy! O infinite charity, worthy only of an infinite bounty!
Affections and Prayers.
O soul, O body, O blood of my Jesus! I adore you and thank you; you are my hope; you are the price paid to save me from hell, which I have so often merited. O my God! what a miserable and hopeless life would await me in eternity, if Thou, my Redeemer, hadst not thought of saving me by Thy sufferings and death! But how is it that souls, redeemed by Thee with so much love, knowing all this, can live without loving Thee, and can despise the grace which Thou hast acquired for them with so much suffering? And did not I also know all this? How, then, could I offend Thee, and offend Thee so often? But, I repeat it, Thy blood is my hope. I acknowledge, my Saviour, the great injuries that I have done to Thee. Oh that I had rather died a thousand times! Oh that I had always loved Thee! But I thank Thee that Thou yet givest me time to do so. I hope in the time that remains to me in this life, and for all eternity, to sing forever Thy praises for the mercies Thou hast shown me. I have deserved, on account of my sins, to be more and more in darkness; but Thou hast given me more and more light. I deserved that Thou shouldst abandon me; but Thou, with calls still more loving, didst come to me and seek me. I deserved that my soul should remain more hardened; but Thou hast softened and touched it with compunction, so that by Thy grace I now feel great sorrow for the offences that I have committed against Thee; I feel within me an ardent desire of loving Thee; I feel fully resolved to lose everything rather than Thy friendship; I feel a love towards Thee that makes me abhor everything that displeases Thee. And this sorrow, this desire, this resolution, and this love, who is it that gives them to me? It is Thou, O Lord, in Thy great mercy. Therefore, my Jesus, this is a proof that Thou hast pardoned me; it is a proof that Thou now lovest me, and that Thou willest me at all costs to be saved; Thou willest that I should be saved, and I will save myself principally to give Thee pleasure. Thou lovest me, and I also love Thee; but my love is but little. Oh, give me more love; Thou deservest more love from me, for I have received from Thee more special favors than others; I pray Thee, do Thou increase the flames of my love. Most holy Mary, obtain for me that the love of Jesus may consume and destroy in me every affection that has not God for its object. Thou dost listen to the prayers of all that call on thee; listen to me also, obtain for me love and perseverance.
1“Consideravi opera tua et expavi.” In Circ. Dom. resp. 6.
2“Fecit potentiam in brachio suo.”
3“Humiliavit semetipsum, factus obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis!” – Phil. ii. 8.
4“O gratiam, O amoris vim!”