I. POINT. "One cometh after me, who was before me" (John I, 27).
St. John, by these words, bears a striking testimony to the Divinity of Jesus Christ, as Jesus Christ Himself did afterwards, when He said to the Jews: "Verily I say unto you: Before Abraham was, I am" (John VIII, 58). The beloved disciple reveals to us in his turn: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John I, 1). If we ask God: "Who art Thou, Lord?" He will answer, "I am, who am" (Ex. Ill, 14); "I am the be ginning and the end; He who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty God" (Apoc. I, 8). Know, says the prophet, that "the Lord is God; it is He, who hath made us, and not we ourselves" (Ps. XCIX, 3). There are three titles of greatness in Jesus, three subjects for our profound humiliation before Him: He is God in His essence, we ought to adore Him ; He is our Creator by His power, we ought to submit to Him. "Shall not my soul be subject to God, since from Him is my salvation ?" (LXI, 2). He is our sovereign Saviour; we ought to serve Him, and annihilate ourselves before His majesty. Jesus, who art before all ages, I acknowledge Thee and I adore Thee in Thy greatness.
II. POINT. I am not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoe (John I, 27).
This is the humble acknowledgement and the true testimony of John the Baptist with regard to the Saviour. In proportion as the holy precursor is penetrated with the greatness of the Son of God, dazzled by the splendour of His holiness, moved by His profound annihilation's, enlightened by this divine Sun of Justice, who veils Himself under the clouds of our humanity, he recognises the abyss of his own nothingness, the excess of his unworthiness and his weakness ; for among the saints, they who were favoured with a clearer know ledge of God, were the most humble, and the most contemptible in their own eyes. As the presence of the sun s rays renders visible those imperceptible atoms which are not discovered in the shade, so the presence of God and the sight of His perfections, striking our mind and impressing upon it sentiments of reverence and adoration, at the same time unveil to us what we are, and plunge us into an abyss of annihilation before His majesty. What is more calculated to draw from our hearts these holy sighs of one of the most perfect lovers of our Lord, St. Augustine? "My God, grant that I may know Thee and that I may know myself: that I may know Thee, in order to love and esteem Thee; that I may know myself, in order to hate and despise myself; that I may know Thee, in order to seek and desire Thee; that I may know myself, in order to flee from myself, that I may unite myself to Thee more intimately and more perfectly.
III. POINT. If St. John, who was great before the Lord, who was the greatest among the children of men, and of whom the world was not worthy, did not think himself worthy to loose the latchet of the shoes of Jesus Christ, and if in this he renders exact justice to himself, what shall we, full of sins, so far from the holiness of John the Baptist, what shall we think of ourselves, and how shall we dare to appear in the presence of the Lord, before whom the pillars of heaven tremble, in whose eyes the angels are not without spot ? (Job IV, 18). With what sentiments should we be penetrated, especially when He comes to us and in us by holy Communion! Lord, who art Thou and who am I? Thou the Saint of saints, the Almighty, an abyss of infinite perfections-, and I, a criminal nothing, a frightful combination of darkness, miseries, inconstancy and sin! If the Church is astonished that Thou didst not abhor to enter the womb of the purest of Virgins, how canst Thou descend into the heart of a sinner, unworthy of Thy mercies? Lord, I am filled with confusion, astonishment and gratitude! admirable and incomprehensible prodigy! A poor and vile servant, nourished with the Body of his Master and Lord in holy Communion !
BY A MONK OF SEPT-FONTS. TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY THE RELIGIOUS OF THE VISITATION, OF WILMINGTON, DEL.
REVISED AND EDITED BY REV. FERREOL GIRARDEY, C. SS. R.
"Thy law is my meditation." (Ps. cxviii, 77.)