By VERY REV. ALEXIS M. LEPICIER, O.S.M. Consultor of the Sacred Consistorial Congregation, etc.
CHAPTER XXVIII. HOW JESUS CHRIST, KING OF OUR HEARTS, TRIUMPHS OVER HIS ENEMIES.
THE government of society belongs of right to Jesus Christ, who guides all nations in the path of virtue. He dictates laws which make men happy in time and in eternity. He judges every one and has the power of life and death over every member of the great human family. To Him, therefore, glory should be given by all the rulers of the earth, who depend on Him in the execution of their power and, therefore, must bow their knees to Him as to their Lord and Master. But as this same loving Saviour has heaped benefits on the whole human race, ransoming it from sin, relieving its misery and bringing help and comfort to all, it follows that all owe Him veneration, homage and love.
But although Jesus Christ, Our Lord, has enriched mankind so generously, yet, if we look round the world, we only see, on the part of most men, icy indifference to Him and a black ingratitude for His gifts. Nor is this mere indifference and ingratitude. I should say rather—terrible as it is to have to say it—aversion and hatred.
The question before us is: how does it come that this very love of Jesus for us is made an object of hatred? We can only say that it is a fact. So blinded with rage are the enemies of Jesus Christ that they persecute and wage mortal war not only on Him, but on all who belong to Him as well. And so is verified— even as regards the wicked—the fact that the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the Center of all hearts: "Cor Jesu, Centrum omnium cordium" But in the case of the wicked, the Heart of Jesus becomes a center of attack, the target of their poisoned arrows. How deep and terrible is this mystery of ingratitude, which makes the whole earth an object of just wrath to a God infinitely good and infinitely holy, who sees all His mercy belittled, outraged and despised.
Yet so marvelous is the power of Our Redeemer that even His sworn enemies are compelled, at times, reluctant as they may be, to burst forth in words of praise in His honor and to recognize His supremacy over all mankind. Just as Balaam, the idolatrous prophet, called upon by Balaac, King of Moab, to curse the Hebrew nation, found himself compelled to bless them instead, foretelling them their prosperity and triumph; so even the most violent blasphemers of Jesus Christ are sometimes heard enthusiastically to celebrate His greatness and His victories. So, but a short time ago, we saw the civilized world, with its many associations of men, some even openly hostile to Christ and His Church, uniting in one voice of joy and exultation to celebrate the event of the liberation from the Moslem yoke of the Holy Places sanctified once by the presence of Our Saviour. So true are the words of St. Paul: "At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow." (Phil. II, 10.)
Whosoever thoroughly considers the war fare waged against our divine Redeemer, clearly sees that His enemies are divided into three distinct classes, each of them, unfortunately, only too numerous. The first are those sworn enemies of His who fight undisguisedly, whether by speech, writing, or deed, to the end of frustrating or overthrowing His kingdom.
The second is that still more numerous category of the indifferent. People who know nothing, or pretend to know nothing about God, who dwell in this world without seeking or asking whence they came or whither they go, interested only in material things in which they put all their trust. These do not love the divine King of our hearts, because they do not know Him. How many pass by our churches without even setting foot on the threshold, ignoring the great Treasure which is contained within. "O Jesus," exclaimed St. Aloysius Gonzaga, "Thou art not loved be cause Thou art not known."
The third class, and this is even greater than the second, is made up of lax Christians. Here there is no question of hostility to the Name of Christ or of denying it. But in practice this class ranges itself with Our Lord's enemies, because its deeds, its behavior, is nothing else but an implicit denial of His kingdom, a mute but real rebellion against His holy laws. And not only are these Christians disobedient to the laws of Jesus Christ, but they also give His enemies an occasion to deride His Holy Name.
They call themselves Christians and yet they are not ashamed to stain their lives with in numerable vices, which the popular opinion, wrongly, yet with some show of right, attributes to the religion they profess. Alas, how many Christians, even persons consecrated by sacred ties to God, cause the Holy Name of Our Lord to be thus blasphemed!
But if a king has enemies who give them selves to insulting and offending him, his subjects who are faithful and devoted are not con tent with bewailing the ingratitude of the rebellious. They try to make up, by an ardent affection, which they manifest in word and deed, for the injuries done to their sovereign. They show him a greater respect than ever, and display a still more lively zeal for his honor. By this they make amends, so far as they can, for the black ingratitude of those who are not ashamed to deny Our Lord his due tribute of love and veneration.
We, therefore, who rightly boast of belonging to the free subjects of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, our celestial Sovereign, must see that our lives correspond to our dignity. And especially we must make up for the love denied
Him by His enemies and counterpoise the hatred with which He is repaid by offering Him our hearts enkindled with imperishable and burning love. We should offer Him praises in place of the blasphemies by which He is surrounded; adoration and homage to make amends for the refusal of many to ac knowledge Him as King and Sovereign of all hearts. If others ignore Him, let us seek His glory everywhere, with the ardor of apostles, endeavoring to make known His divine Heart by all, for in so far as Jesus Christ is known, so also will He be loved.
Especially let us try to make this Sacred Heart of Our Saviour loved by little children, before the pestilential breath of the world has withered their minds and souls. We should remember that it is easier to kindle this flame of love for Jesus Christ in the innocent hearts of these His little ones than in grown-up people, who being the slaves of their passions, often have nothing for Him but indifference and coldness.
But we can much more efficaciously make up to our loving Sovereign for the offenses He receives, by the force of our good example. We should strive with all our strength to make our lives mirror the most holy life of Jesus, so that in us the saying may be verified: "A Christian is another Christ" Oh, could we also be as St. Paul says, "the good odor of Christ unto God"! (II Cor. II, 15.) Who knows how many rebellious subjects, attracted by our example, would then turn to the loving King of our hearts, and be come, once again, His generous and faithful subjects? But even if this does not come to pass, at least we shall be sure that by leading a life worthy of our Divine Sovereign we shall not, at the last day, be scorned by Him and cast away from His presence as unworthy subjects, too unlike their Master.
Therefore, let us seek by every means in our power that these words of St. Paul may be verified: "He must reign, until he hath put all his enemies under his feet." (1 Cor. XV, 25.) Yes, it is meet that the decrees of God should be fulfilled. God wishes that Jesus Christ should reign and govern the world, that He should conquer His enemies and make His subjects free. The day will come when all the enemies of Jesus will be subjected to Him and no adversary will be left to fight. Then His kingdom will be all peace, all harmony. But until that day comes to pass, He will always be surrounded by enemies; for it is necessary that His power should first be displayed in the greatness and splendor of His triumphs.