By VERY REV. ALEXIS M. LEPICIER, O.S.M. Consultor of the Sacred Consistorial Congregation, etc.
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JESUS CHRIST is our King. It is a king's business to vindicate justice. It was therefore needful that Jesus Christ should have a keen sense of what is just, that He should be filled with pure and enlightened zeal for justice. This was so much the more necessary, because He exercises His sovereignty over the hearts of men, and has the task of reconciling them to His eternal Father arid filling them with celestial peace which is indeed the fruit of justice. Hence, He is fittingly invoked: "Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation." "— Cor Jesu, pax et reconciliatio nostra" But how came the Sacred Heart of our Bang, Jesus Christ, to be filled with this keen sense of justice?
In the first place, our loving Saviour, knowing more than any other rational being, even than the angels, the infinite kindness and greatness of God, can estimate all the enormity of sin which is a direct offense against the Divine Majesty. He sees how sin deprives God of the honor due to Him as Lord of the universe whom all things should obey. For God is a most loving Father, worthy of the love of all, to whom all owe gratitude for countless favors received at His hand. And so, the Heart of our King, Jesus Christ, is filled with the most exalted sense of justice; justice, more over, not bereft of mercy and love. For this reason we invoke Him: "Heart of Jesus, sanctuary of justice and love."— "Cor Jesu iustitiae et amoris receptaculum" As a victim of sweet savor, He consumes Himself, offers Himself to God, to blot out all injuries done to the Divine Majesty by all our sins and unfaithfulnesses: "Heart of Jesus, a victim for sinners"- -"Cor Jesu victima peccatorum."
On the other hand, our most loving Saviour sees clearly the harm which sin does to our souls. For sin alienates us from God, the fount of all good, and deprives us of divine grace, making us deserving to be hurled into the abyss of perdition and misery. Therefore, like the King of Love that He is, Jesus only desires to free us from such cruel bondage. This He does by continuing to offer Himself as a victim of propitiation for our sins: "Cor Jesu, propitiatio pro peccatis nostris"
This prerogative of the Heart of Jesus, His justice, is beautifully expressed in Psalm forty-four, which is as it were the nuptial hymn in which is celebrated Our Lord's mystical espousals with His beloved Bride, the Church: "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; the scepter of thy kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;" (Ps. XLIV, 6.) which is as much as to say: O Christ Jesus, Thou who art true God and true King of our hearts, Thou possessest a kingdom which is not like those of the monarchs of the earth which speedily disappear. For Thy kingdom is no kingdom of a moment, a fading kingdom; but eternal and imperishable. It shall have no end, because it is a kingdom entirely based on justice.
In fact, this kingdom of His, Jesus Christ administers with uprightness and equity: "Thou hast loved justice and hated iniquity: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." (Ps. XLIV, 7.)
That is to say, Thou reignest, O King of Love, over the hearts of all mankind, like the good and just Prince that Thou art, with absolute uprightness, prescribing what is just and hon est, rewarding the good and drawing the evil doers toward virtue, because Thy rule of con duct is equity. And in order that Thou mayest reign forever with equity and justice, and that Thou mayest hate iniquity, the Father has anointed Thee with the oil of gladness. This oil, so precious and divine, which strengthens Thee with its fragrance and fills Thy Heart with spiritual joy, overflows also on all Thy faithful subjects, with the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit which they receive from Thee. (John I, 16. See Acts X, 38.)
Now, when was it that this love of justice and its accompanying hatred of sin was in fused into the soul of Our Saviour? This took place in the very moment in which His most holy Humanity was hypostatically united to the Divinity: that is, in the moment of His marvelous conception in the womb of our blessed Lady. For love of justice and hatred of iniquity were from that very moment to be the guiding motives of all His conduct. He was then invisibly anointed with the oil of gladness and exultation, which was in Him infinitely more abundant than in all other kings, priests or prophets, because He was to reign without end over hearts grown meek and docile at His voice.
Now, how shall Jesus display that sense of justice and equity which informs His Sacred Heart, in the case of those who finally remain indifferent to His gentle entreaties or even prove irrevocably rebellious to His powerful inspirations? We shudder at the mere thought. Yet, we must believe that toward them Jesus exercises His exalted office of King and most just Judge, assigning for their past infidelities and rebellions that measure of punishment preordained by the scale of divine justice. However, He will not cease, for all this, to be the gentle and amiable King that He is; but those wretched beings who will have irrevocably shut their hearts to the sweet influence of His grace will be cut off from the benefit of His love. They will be, sad as it is to think, His irreconcilable foes. Their hearts will be filled with relentless hatred against their great-
est benefactor, whose past favors will remain as an everlasting proof that He left nothing undone to draw them to His love. Those favors will bear witness that it was not through any fault of His that His enemies did not end by being sharers of the eternal happiness which He merited for them by His passion and death.
Beautiful, indeed, and majestic is Our Lord Jesus Christ even in the midst of His torments. Those blood stains which discolor His cloak do not detract from His comeliness, for with that blood He paid our debts. Even the angels seeing Him go forward in such majesty question one another, marveling: "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bosra, this beautiful one in his robe, walking in the greatness of his strength? I that speak justice and am a defender to save." (Isa. LXIII, 1.) St. Augustine, contemplating in spirit our most just King and Sovereign, Jesus Christ, found Him fair, beautiful and majestic, in every phase of His life; because He was always just, always guided by a sense of the highest equity: "He is beautiful in Heaven" this great Doctor exclaims, "beautiful on earth, beautiful in miracles, beautiful in His scourging, beautiful on the cross, beautiful in His sepulcher." And this is the reason he gives: "The highest and truest beauty consists in justice: if, therefore, Jesus was above, all just, He was above all beautiful." (St. Aug. on Psalm XLIV.)
Grant, O Jesus, of Thy great mercy which can conquer all obstacles, that our wills—even the most rebellious—may be bowed, docile and obedient, under the sweet yoke of Thy law, so that we may sing Thy mercy for all eternity. (Ps. LXXXVIII, 2.)