The Abasement of Jesus
Formam servi accipiens.
Taking the form of a servant. 1 Phil. 2: 7
The eternal Word descends on earth to save man; and whence does he descend? His going out is from the end of heaven. He descends from the bosom of his divine Father, where from eternity he was begotten in the brightness of the saints. And where does he descend? He descends into the womb of a Virgin, a child of Adam, which in comparison with the bosom of God is an object of horror; wherefore the Church sings, Thou didst not abhor the Virgin s womb. Yes, because the Word being in the bosom of the Father is God like the Father, is immense, omnipotent, most blessed and supreme Lord, and equal in everything to the Father. But in the womb of Mary he is a creature, small, weak, afflicted, a servant inferior to the Father, taking the form of a servant.
It is related as a great prodigy of humility in St Alexis that, although he was the son of a Roman gentle man, he chose to live as a servant in his father’s house. But how is the humility of this saint to be compared with the humility of Jesus Christ? Between the son and the servant of the father of St. Alexis there was, it is true, some difference; but between God and the servant of God there is an infinite difference. Besides, this Son of God having become the servant of his Father, in obedience to him, made himself also the servant of his creatures, that is to say, of Mary and Joseph: And he was subject to them. Moreover, he made himself even a servant of Pilate, who condemned him to death, and he was obedient to him and accepted it; he became a servant to the executioners, who scourged him, crowned him with thorns, and crucified him; and he humbly obeyed them all, and yielded himself into their hands. O God! and shall we, after this, refuse to submit ourselves to the service of so loving a Saviour, who, to save us, has subjected himself to such painful and degrading slavery? And rather than be the servants of this great and so loving a Lord, shall we be content to be slaves of the devil, who does not love his servants, but hates them and treats them like a tyrant, making them miserable and wretched in this world and in the next? But if we have been guilty of this great folly, why do we not quickly give up this unhappy servitude? Courage, then, since we have been delivered by Jesus Christ from the slavery of hell; let us now embrace and bind around us with love those sweet chains, which will render us servants and lovers of Jesus Christ, and hereafter obtain for us the crown of the eternal kingdom amongst the blessed in Paradise.
Affections and Prayers
My beloved Jesus, Thou art the Sovereign of heaven and earth; but for the love of me Thou hast made Thyself a servant even of the executioners who tore Thy flesh, pierced Thy head, and finally left Thee nailed on the cross to die of sorrow. I adore Thee as my God and Lord, and I am ashamed to appear before Thee, when I remember how often, for the sake of some miserable pleasure, I have broken Thy holy bonds, and have told Thee to Thy face that I would not serve Thee. Ah, Thou mayst justly reproach me: Thou hast burst my bands, and thou saidst: I will not serve. But still, O my Saviour, Thy merits and Thy goodness, which cannot despise a heart that repents and humbles itself, give me courage to hope for pardon: A contrite and humble heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. I confess, my Jesus, that I have offended Thee greatly; I confess that I deserve a thousand hells for the sins I have committed against Thee; chasten me as Thou seest fit, but do not deprive me of Thy grace and love. I repent above every other evil of having despised Thee. I love Thee with my whole heart. I propose from this day forth to desire to serve Thee and love Thee alone. I pray Thee bind me by Thy merits with the chains of Thy holy love, and never suffer that I see myself released from them again. I love Thee above everything, O my deliverer; and I would prefer being Thy servant to being master of the whole world. And of what avail would all the world be to him who lives deprived of Thy grace? My sweetest Jesus, permit me not to separate myself from Thee, permit me not to separate myself from Thee. This grace I ask of Thee, and I intend always to ask it; and I beg of Thee to grant me this day the grace to repeat continually to the end of my life this prayer: My Jesus, grant that I may never again separate myself from Thy love. I ask this favor of thee also, O Mary, my Mother: help me by thy intercession, that I may never separate myself again from my God.