By VERY REV. ALEXIS M. LEPICIER, O.S.M. Consultor of the Sacred Consistorial Congregation, etc
The love which springs from charity is the first and most noble growth of divine grace. It is therefore impossible that any one devoid of grace should have a heart replenished with true love for his neighbor. Now, Jesus Christ, from the very first moment of His conception in the virginal womb of our blessed Lady, received the gift of grace from the Holy Ghost in a measure not vouchsafed to any other living creature; indeed, He received it beyond measure, as St. John says. (John III, 34.) In fact, this divine Heart was filled to overflowing with sanctifying grace, because grace was communicated to it immediately by the Word, to whom its sacred Humanity was hypostatically united, and because this very grace was destined to make the Heart of Jesus the holy temple of God: "Cor Jesu, templum Dei sanctum." For this reason, this divine Heart is a burning furnace of charity: "Cor Jesu, fornax ardens caritatis" It does not crave for anything but our good, and is always ready to procure it. It does not live for itself, but for us, as a loving mother whose thought day and night is always for her tender offspring, who gives herself no peace as long as her beloved child is exposed to perils or is a prey to grief.
Indeed, we cannot find any better type of the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for us than in the love which a father and mother bear toward a dear son. When .we have said fatherly and motherly love, we have said all. But, with us, fatherly love is less demonstrative, yet stronger; motherly love, on the contrary, is more disinterested, more heroic, yet less reasoned. Now, the moment God gave us Jesus as the Author of our salvation, He poured into His Sacred Heart the strongest love of a father and the tenderest love of a mother, with all the good qualities, and none of the defects, of both. And this love bears with it five characteristics which mark the love of parents for their children, the consideration of which will give us a better understanding of the love of Jesus for mankind.
First of all, the love of a father and mother for their children is universal; it extends equally to all. So, Jesus loves all men with a love sincere and deep. This moreover must be noticed, that unlike what happens among us, the love of Jesus, although divided among so many, remains undiminished for each one. By an act of the power and goodness of God, Jesus Christ loves each of us as if we were alone in the world, which made St. Paul exclaim: "He loved me, and delivered Himself for me." (Gal. II, 20.) In fact, because of the special dis position of Divine Goodness, Jesus loves every man as though that man were all men, and He loves all men as one man. Therefore, it is fitly said of the Heart of Jesus: "And of His fullness we all have received."— "Cor Jesu de cuius plenitudine omnes nos accepimus." (John I, 16.)
Besides this, the love of Jesus is absolutely pure and disinterested. Our divine Saviour loves us, not for any good that He may expect from us, but simply for our good. The Apostle St. Paul describes this beautiful quality when addressing the Corinthians; he speaks thus of his own love for them: "For I seek not the, things that are yours, but you. For neither ought the children to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. But I most gladly will spend and be spent myself for your souls: although loving you more, I be loved less." (2 Cor. XII, 14-15.) Now, the love of the Heart of Jesus toward us is certainly not less disinterested than the love of St. Paul for the faithful of Corinth. Our divine Lord seeks only our good, and even to those who repay Him with ingratitude He does not cease to open the treasure of His mercy.
Another characteristic of the love of Jesus for men is its generosity. This tender Saviour did not love us by words, but by deeds, when He gave Himself to us as our Companion on the pilgrimage of this life, as our Food in the Holy Eucharist, as our Ransom in His most cruel death on the cross, as our Reward in His own eternal bliss.
|1 Hymn for Lauds on the Feast of Corpus Christi. 2 Tr. Rev. E. Caswall.|
Moreover, the love of Jesus is a wise and discerning love. Our most merciful Lord sees what is good for us and gives it to us, though maybe at times we wish for something beyond what He has bestowed. But He knows what may profit us. Wherefore if, in our prayers, we ask for what might prove harmful to us, He does not for that reason cease to hear us, but gives us, instead of what we ask, graces which are for our spiritual good. Rightly, therefore, do we also invoke Him with confidence: "Heart of Jesus, rich to all those who invoke Thee."- "Cor Jesu, dives in omnes qui invocant Te"
Above all, the love of Jesus is an unquenchable, unconquerable love. Be it ever so neglected, so unanswered, so ill repaid with in gratitude and insults, it none the less never ceases to burn in that divine Heart as in a glowing furnace, for it is written: "Many waters cannot quench charity." (Canticle, VIII, 7.) Although filled with reproaches, and bruised for our sins, the Heart of Jesus never ceases to beat out of sheer love for its very offenders. "Cor Jesu, saturatum opprobriis" — "Cor Jesu, attritum propter scelera nostra."
O love of the Heart of Jesus, who can measure it? Who can bear in mind or, what is more, value and appreciate with heart-felt affection, the greatness, the immensity of this mystery of love, great and vast as the sea, deep and high as the heavens. For never was there an earthly king who loved his subjects as the King of our hearts has loved us.
Well did St. Paul pray that the Corinthians "might be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth (of the love of Jesus for us), to know also the charity of Christ which surpasseth all knowledge, that they might be -filled unto all the fullness of God" (Eph. III, 18-19.) With great reason, then, Jesus, appearing to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and showing her His Sacred Heart, exclaimed: "Behold this Heart which has so loved men!"