Christ_in_Gethsemane

Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, from the Womb of His Mother

Thus does the prophet Isaiah designate our Lord Jesus Christ “the man of sorrows;” yes, because this man was created on purpose to suffer, and from His infancy began to endure the greatest sorrows that any man ever suffered. The first man, Adam, enjoyed for some time upon this earth the delights of the earthly paradise; but the second Adam, Jesus Christ, did not pass a mo­ment of His life without sorrows and anguish; for even from the time when He was a child He was afflicted by the foresight of all the sufferings and ignominy that He would have to endure during His life, and especially at His death, when He was to close that life immersed in a tempest of sorrow and opprobrium, as David had predicted: I am come into the depth of the sea, and a tempest hath overwhelmed me.

Even from the womb of Mary, Jesus Christ accepted obedi­ently the sacrifice which His Father had desired Him to make, even His passion and death: Becoming obedient unto death. So that even from the womb of Mary He foresaw the scourges and presented to them His flesh; He foresaw the thorns, and pre­sented to them His head; He foresaw the blows, and presented to them His cheeks; He foresaw the nails, and presented to them His hands and His feet; He foresaw the cross, and offered His life. Hence it is true that even from His earliest infancy our blessed Redeemer every moment of His life suffered a contin­ual martyrdom; and He offered it every moment for us to His eternal Father.

But what afflicted Him most was the sight of the sins which men would commit even after this painful redemption. By His divine light He well knew the malice of every sin, and therefore did He come into the world to do away with all sins; but when He saw the immense number which would be com­mitted, the sorrow that the Heart of Jesus felt was greater than all the sorrows that all men ever suffered or ever will suffer upon earth.

Affections and Prayers

My sweetest Redeemer, when shall I begin to be grateful to Your infinite goodness? When shall I begin to acknowledge the love that You have borne me, and the sorrows You have endured for me? Hitherto, instead of love and gratitude, I have returned You offenses and contempt; shall I then continue to live always ungrateful to You, my God, who have spared nothing to acquire my love? No, my Jesus, it shall not be so. During the days that may yet remain to me I will be grateful to You; and You will, I trust, help me to be so. If I have offended You, Your sufferings and Your death are my hope. You have promised to forgive the penitent. I repent with my whole soul of having despised You. Fulfill, therefore, Your promise, my Beloved, and forgive me. O dearest Infant, I behold You in the manger already nailed to Your cross, which is constantly present to You, and which You already accept for me. O my crucified Infant! I thank You for it, and I love You. Stretched upon this straw, suffering already for me, and preparing Yourself even now to die for this love of me, You command and invite me to love You: Love the Lord thy God. And I desire nothing more than to love You. Since, therefore, You will that I should love You, give me all that love that You require of me; love for You is Your gift, and the greatest gift that You can make to a soul. Accept, O my Jesus, for Your lover a sinner who has so greatly offended You. You came from heaven to seek the lost sheep; therefore, seek me, and I will seek none other but You. You desire my soul, and my soul desires nothing but You. You love him that loves You, and say, Those that love Me I love. I love You, may You also love me; and if You love me, bind me to Your love; but bind me so that I may never again be able to disengage myself from You. Mary, my Mother, help me. Let it be your glory also to see your Son loved by a miserable sinner, who has hitherto so greatly offended Him.

This article is taken from a chapter in The Road to Bethlehem by St. Alphonsus Liguori, which is available from TAN Books.

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