On the Love of Jesus Christ for us,
and on our Obligations to Love Him
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
The Savior of the World, Whom, according to the Prediction-of the
Prophet Isaiah, Men were One Day to see on this Earth ("and All Flesh shall see the Salvation of God"), has already come.
We have not only seen Him conversing-among Men, but we have also seen Him
Suffering and Dying for the Love of us. Let us,
then, this morning, consider the Love which we Owe to Jesus
Christ, at least through Gratitude, for the Love which He bears to us.
In the First Point we shall consider the Greatness-of the Love which
Jesus Christ has shown us; and in the Second we shall see the Greatness of our
Obligations-to Love Him.
On the Great Love which Jesus Christ has shown to us
"Christ", says Saint Augustine, "came on Earth that Men might Know how much
God Loves them". He has come, and, to show the Immense Love which this
God bears us, He has given Himself entirely to
us, by Abandoning Himself to all the Pains of
this Life, and afterwards to the Scourges, to the Thorns, and to all the
Sorrows and Insults which He
Suffered in His Passion, and by offering
Himself to Die, Abandoned by all, on the
Infamous Tree of the Cross. "Who Loved me, and Delivered Himself for me" - Galations 2:20.
Jesus Christ could Save us without Dying
on the Cross, and without Suffering. One (1)
Drop of His Blood would be Sufficient-for our Redemption. Even a
Prayer, offered-to His Eternal Father, would be Sufficient; because, on-account-of
His Divinity, His Prayer would be of Infinite
(∞) Value, and would therefore be Sufficient-for the Salvation of
the World, and of a Thousand (1000) Worlds. "But", says Saint Chrysostom, or another
Ancient Author, "what was Sufficient for Redemption, was not Sufficient for Love". To show how much
He Loved us, He Wished to shed not only a Part-of
His Blood, but the Entire of it, by Dint-of Torrents. This may be Inferred-from
the Words which He used on the Night before His Death:
"This is My Blood of the New Testament, which shall be Shed for many" - Matthew 26:28. The Words
shall be Shed show that in His Passion, the
Blood of Jesus Christ was Poured-forth, even to the Last Drop. Hence, when after
Death, His Side was opened-with a Spear, Blood and Water came-forth, as if what then
flowed, was All that remained-of His Blood. Jesus Christ, then, though
He could Save us without Suffering,
Wished-to embrace a Life of Continual Pain, and to Suffer the
Cruel and Ignominious Death of the Cross. "He humbled Himself, becoming Obedient
unto Death, even to the Death of the Cross" - Philippians 2:8.
"Greater Love than this no Man hath, that a Man lay down his Life for his Friends" - John 15:13. To show
His Love for us, what more could the Son of God do, than
Die for us? What more can One (1) Man do for Another, than give his Life for him? "Greater
Love than this, no Man hath". Tell me, my Brother, if One of your Servants - if the Vilest Man on this Earth,
had done for you what Jesus Christ has done, in Dying through
Pain on a Cross, could you remember his Love for you, and not Love
Saint Francis of Assisi appeared to be unable to think of anything but the Passion of
Jesus Christ; and thinking of it, he continually Shed Tears, so that by his
Constant Weeping, he became nearly Blind. Being found one day,
Weeping and Groaning at the Foot of the Crucifix, he was asked the
Cause-of his Tears and Lamentations. He replied: "I
Weep over the Sorrows and Ignominies of my Lord. And what makes me Weep still
more, is that the Men for whom He has Suffered so much, Live in Forgetfulness of
O Christian, should a Doubt ever enter your Mind, that Jesus Christ Loves
you, Raise your Eyes and look-at Him, hanging-on the Cross. Ah! says Saint Thomas
of Villanova, the Cross to-which He is Nailed,
the 'Internal' and 'External' Sorrows which He endures, and the
Cruel Death which He Suffers for you, are Convincing Proofs of the
Love which He bears you. "Testis crux, testes dolores,
testis amara mors quam pro te sustinuit". Do you not, says Saint Bernard, hear the Voice-of that Cross, and
of those Wounds, crying-out to make you feel that He Truly
Loves you? "Clamat crux, clamat vulnus, quod vere dilexit".
Saint Paul says that the Love which Jesus Christ has shown, in
Condescending-to Suffer so much for our Salvation, should Excite us to
His Love, more Powerfully than the Scourging, the Crowning
with Thorns, the Painful Journey-to Calvary, the
Agony of Three (3) Hours on the Cross, the
Buffets, the Spitting in His Face, and all the other
Injuries which the Savior endured. According to the Apostle, the Love which
Jesus has shown us, not only Obliges, but in a certain manner 'Forces' and 'Constrains' us, to
Love a God Who has Loved so much.
"For the Charity of Christ presseth us" - 2Corinthians 5:14. On this 'Text', Saint Francis de Sales says:
"We Know that Jesus, the True God, has Loved us so as to Suffer Death, and even Death on the Cross, for our Salvation. Does not
such Love, put our Hearts, as it were, under a Press, to Force from them Love, by a Violence which is Stronger in proportion as it is more Amiable?".
So Great was the Love that Inflamed the Enamored Heart of
Jesus, that He not only Wished to Die
for our Redemption, but during His Whole Life,
He Sighed Ardently for the Day on which He should Suffer Death, for the
Love of us. Hence, during His Life, Jesus used
to say: "I have a Baptism wherewith I am to be Baptized: and how am I Straitened (stressed), until it be accomplished?" -
Luke 12:50. In My Passion, I am to be Baptized
with the Baptism of My Own Blood, to Wash-away the Sins of Men.
"And how am I Straitened?". How, says Saint Ambrose, explaining this 'Passage', am I
Straitened (stressed) by the Desire of the Speedy Arrival of the Day of My Death.
Hence, on the Night before His Passion He said:
"With Desire I have Desired to eat this Pasch with you, before I Suffer" - Luke 22:15.
"We have", says Saint Lawrence Justinian, "seen Wisdom become Foolish, through
the Excess of Love". We have, he says, seen the Son of God become, as it were, a
Fool, through the Excessive Love which He bore-to Men. Such, too, was the
Language of the Gentiles, when they heard the Apostles Preaching that Jesus Christ, Suffered
Death for the Love of Men. "But we", says Saint Paul, "
Preach Christ Crucified, unto the Jews indeed a Stumbling Block, and unto the Gentiles, Foolishness" - 1Corinthians 1:23. Who, they exclaimed, can
Believe that a God, most-Happy in Himself, and Who
stands in Need-of no one, should take Human Flesh and Die for the
Love of Men, who are His Creatures? This would be to Believe that a God
became Foolish, for the Love of Men. "It appears Folly",
says Saint Gregory, "that the Author of Life should Die for Men". But, whatever Infidels
may 'Say' or 'Think', it is of Faith that the Son of God has Shed all
His Blood, for the Love of us, to Wash-away the Sins
of our Souls. "Who hath Loved us, and Washed us from our Sins, in His Own Blood" -
Revelation 1:5. Hence, the Saints were Struck Dumb with Astonishment, at the consideration-of the Love of
Jesus Christ. At the Sight-of the Crucifix, Saint Francis of Paul could do nothing but exclaim,
O Love! O Love! O Love!
"Having Loved His Own, who were in the World, He Loved them unto the End" - John 13:1. This
Loving God was not content-with showing us His Love by Dying on
the Cross for our Salvation; but, at the End of
His Life, He Wished-to leave us His Own Flesh, for the Food of our
Souls, that thus, He might Unite (1)
Himself entirely to us. "Take ye, and eat. This is My Body" - Matthew 26:26. But of
this Gift, and this Excess-of Love, we shall speak at another Time, in
Treating-of the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Let us pass-to the Second Point.
On the Greatness of our Obligation to Love Jesus Christ
He who Loves, Wishes to-be Loved. "When",
says Saint Bernard, "God Loves, He Desires nothing else than to be Loved". The Redeemer
said: "I am come to Cast Fire on the Earth; and what Will I, but that it be Kindled?" - Luke 12:49.
I, says Jesus Christ, came on Earth, to Light-up the Fire-of Divine Love in
the Hearts of Men, "What Will I, but that it be Kindled?".
God Wishes nothing else from us, than to be Loved. Hence the Holy Church Prays
in the Following Words: "We Beseech Thee, O Lord, that the Spirit may Inflame us with the Fire which Jesus Christ cast upon the Earth,
and which He vehemently Wished to be Kindled". Ah! what have not the Saints, Inflamed-with this Fire, accomplished! They have
Abandoned all things - Delights, Honors, the Purple and the Sceptre - that they might Burn with this Holy Fire.
But you will ask what are you to do, that you too may be Inflamed-with the Love of Jesus Christ.
Imitate David: "In my Meditation, a Fire shall Flame out" - Psalm 38:4. Meditation is the
Blessed Furnace, in which the Holy Fire of Divine Love
is Kindled. Make Mental Prayer every Day, Meditate on the
Passion of Jesus Christ, and Doubt-not, but you too shall Burn-with this Blessed
Saint Paul says, that Jesus Christ Died for us to make
Himself the Master of the Hearts of All.
"To this End, Christ Died and Rose again; that He might be Lord both of the Dead and of the Living" - Romans 14:9.
He Wished, says the Apostle, to give His Life for All Men, without a Single
Exception, that not even One (1) should live any longer for himself, but that all might live only to that
God, Who condescended-to Die for them.
"And Christ Died for All; that they also who Live, may not now Live to themselves, but unto Him Who Died for them" -
Ah! to correspond-to the Love of this God, it would be necessary
that another God should Die for him, as Jesus Christ
Died for us. O Ingratitude of Men! A God has
condescended-to give His Life for their Salvation, and they will not even think on
what He has done for them! Ah! if each of you thought frequently of the Redeemer,
and on the Love which He has shown us in His
Passion, how could you but Love Him with your Whole
Hearts? To him who sees with a Lively Faith, the Son of God suspended by
Three (3) Nails on the Infamous Gibbet, every Wound
of Jesus 'Speaks' and 'Says': "Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God".
Love, O Man, thy Lord and thy God,
Who has Loved thee so Intensely. Who can resist such Tender Expressions!
"The Wounds of Jesus Christ", says Saint Bonaventure, "Wound the Hardest Hearts, and Inflame
"Oh! if you knew the Mystery of the Cross!", said Saint Andrew the Apostle to the
Tyrant by whom he was Tempted to Deny Jesus
Christ. O Tyrant, if you knew the Love which your
Savior has shown you, by Dying on the Cross,
for your Salvation; instead of Tempting me, you would
Abandon all the Goods of this Earth, to give yourself to the Love of Jesus Christ.
I conclude, my most Beloved Brethren, by Recommending you henceforth to Meditate Every Day
on the Passion of Jesus Christ. I shall be Content, if you
Daily devote to this Meditation, a Quarter of an Hour. Let each, at least
procure a Crucifix: let him keep it in his Room, and from time-to-time give a Glance at it saying:
Ah! my Jesus, Thou hast Died for me, and I do not Love Thee! Had a Person Suffered-for a Friend,
Injuries, Buffets, and Prisons, he would be
Greatly Pleased to find that they were 'Remembered' and 'Spoken-of', with Gratitude. But, he should be Greatly Displeased,
if the Friend, for whom they had been Borne, were Unwilling to 'Think' or 'Hear-of' his Sufferings. Thus Frequent
Meditation on His Passion is very Pleasing-to
our Redeemer; but the Neglect of it, greatly-provokes
His Displeasure. Oh! how Great will be the Consolation which we shall
receive in our Last Moments, from the Sorrows and Death
of Jesus Christ, if during Life, we shall have Frequently
Meditated on them, with Love! Let us not wait till others, at the Hour of
Death, place in our hands, the Crucifix; let us not wait till they Remind us of all that
Jesus Christ Suffered for us. Let us during Life, embrace Jesus
Christ Crucified; let us keep ourselves always United with
Him. He who practices Devotion to the Passion of
Our Lord, cannot but be Devoted to the Dolors of Mary, the
Remembrance of which, will be to us a Source-of Great Consolation, at the Hour of
Death. Oh! how 'Profitable' and 'Sweet', the Meditation of
Jesus on the Cross. Oh! how Happy the Death of him, who
Dies in the Embrace-of Jesus Crucified, accepting
Death with Cheerfulness, for the Love of that God,
Who has Died for the Love of us.
- End of Liguori Sermon -
"Let us during Life, embrace Jesus Christ Crucified"
Act of Love and Contrition
O God, because You are Infinite Goodness, Worthy of Infinite Love, I Love You with all my Heart above all things;
and for Love of You, I Love my Neighbor also. I Repent with all my Heart, and am Sorry for all my Sins, because by them I have Offended your
Infinite Goodness. I Resolve, by the Help of Your Grace, rather to Die, than ever to Offend You again.