MEDITATIONS FOR EVERY DAY
By St. Alphonsus Liguori
Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, from the Womb of His Mother.
Virum dolorum et scientem infirmitatem.
A man of sorrows, acquainted with infirmity. Isaias 53: 3
Thus does the prophet Isaias designate our Lord Jesus Christ “the man of sorrows;” yes, because this man was created on purpose to suffer, and from his infancy began to endure the greatest sorrows that any man ever suffered. The first man, Adam, enjoyed for some time upon this earth the delights of the earthly paradise; but the second Adam, Jesus Christ, did not pass a moment of his life without sorrows and anguish; for even from a child he was afflicted by the foresight of all the sufferings and ignominy that he would have to endure during his life, and especially at his death, when he was to close that life immersed in a tempest of sorrow and opprobrium, as David had predicted: I am come into the depth of the sea, and a tempest hath overwhelmed me.
Even from the womb of Mary, Jesus Christ accepted obediently the sacrifice which his Father had desired him to make, even his Passion and death: Becoming obedient unto death. So that even from the womb of Mary he foresaw the scourges and presented to them his flesh; he foresaw the thorns, and presented to them his head; he foresaw the blows, and presented to them his cheeks; he foresaw the nails, and presented to them his hands and his feet; he foresaw the cross, and offered his life. Hence it is true that even from his earliest infancy our blessed Redeemer every moment of his life suffered a continual martyrdom; and he offered it every moment for us to his eternal Father.
But what afflicted him most was the sight of the sins which men would commit even after this painful redemption. By his divine light he well knew the malice of every sin, and therefore did he come into the world to do away with all sins; but when he saw the immense number which would be committed, the sorrow that the Heart of Jesus felt was greater than all the sorrows that all men ever suffered or ever will suffer upon earth.
Affections and Prayers
My sweetest Redeemer, when shall I begin to be grateful to Thy infinite goodness? When shall I begin to acknowledge the love that Thou hast borne me, and the sorrows Thou hast endured for me? Hitherto, instead of love and gratitude, I have returned Thee offences and contempt; shall I then continue to live always ungrateful to Thee, my God, who hast spared nothing to acquire my love? No, my Jesus, it shall not be so. During the days that may yet remain to me I will be grateful to Thee; and Thou wilt, I trust, help me to be so. If I have offended Thee, Thy sufferings and Thy death are my hope. Thou hast promised to forgive the penitent. I repent with my whole soul of having despised Thee. Fulfil, therefore, Thy promise, my Beloved, and forgive me. O dearest Infant, I behold Thee in the manger already nailed to Thy cross, which is constantly present to Thee, and which Thou dost already accept for me. O my crucified Infant! I thank Thee for it, and I love Thee. Stretched upon this straw, suffering already for me, and preparing Thyself even now to die for this love of me, Thou dost command and invite me to love Thee: Love the Lord thy God. And I desire nothing more than to love Thee. Since, therefore, Thou wiliest that I should love Thee, give me all that love that Thou requirest of me ; love for Thee is Thy gift, and the greatest gift that Thou canst make to a soul. Accept, O my Jesus! for Thy lover a sinner who has so greatly offended Thee. Thou didst come from heaven to seek the lost sheep; do Thou, therefore, seek me, and I will seek none other but Thee. Thou desirest my soul, and my soul desires nothing but Thee. Thou lovest him that loves Thee, and sayest, Those that love Me I love. I love Thee, do Thou also love me; and if Thou lovest me, bind me to Thy love; but bind me so that I may never again be able to disengage myself from Thee. Mary, my Mother, do thou help me. Let it be thy glory also to see thy Son loved by a miserable sinner, who has hitherto so greatly offended him.