"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Saturday, April 28, 2018

THE FOLLOWING OF CHRIST by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

Whosoever imitates the virtues of Jesus may be said to follow Him. He lived on earth for thirtythree years to show us, by word and example, the way to Heaven. He is our model. We cannot be saved unless we become His living images by showing forth in our lives the sanctity of which He is the pattern. 
Now, let us see how the greatest of virtues, Charity, was practised by Him. Every thought, word, and action of His was a new manifestation of this virtue. Whether amongst the Apostles or in the company of strangers, or even when insulted by the Pharisees, Charity governed His every action. He chose faulty men to be His Apostles in order that He might not be without an opportunity for exercising this virtue. When they misunderstood Him, He mildly adapted Himself to their weak comprehension. In the garden with what charity did He not bear their drowsiness! When Thomas doubted concerning His resurrection, what care did He not take to strengthen his wavering faith! How meekly did He not answer the proud Pharisees! And, oh! what compassion had He not for the miseries of men!

Of those who followed Him to the desert He said: "I have compassion on the multitude because they continue with Me now three days and have not what to eat."

Never did He refuse to heal those who sought in Him a physician. He declared that He had come to save those who were sinners. When He passed through cities it was only that He might scatter gifts and graces, console the afflicted, cure the sick, and pardon the guilty.

In that loving Heart no hatred or revenge ever dwelt. His last words on the cross were: "Pardon them, they know not what they do." What a noble example for our imitation! Listen to the words of St. Paul: "Now, we that are stronger ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves; for Jesus Christ did not please Himself." Alas! how different is our conduct! How blind we are to our own faults and ready to see those of our neighbor! If we really followed out the precept of our Lord, we should see no quarrels, no harsh judgments, no scandals, no unkind words or acts.

Yet, practically, we show so little of Christ's spirit. Self-love, so deeply rooted in our hearts, has its baneful influence. Envy, hatred, suspicion, and readiness to take offence have their sources in this false love and not in Jesus Christ. How often we hear people say: "I cannot forgive him because he wronged me. People no longer respect me. My good reputation--alas!--it is a thing of the past." Grant that he did offend you; have you never sinned against God or treated your neighbor unkindly?

If you wish God to pardon you, then forgive your brother. This is indeed hard to do, but it becomes easy when you cast yourself at the feet of Jesus crucified, and think how lovingly He forgave His enemies. Our Lord had compassion on the miserable, whether their poverty was spiritual or intellectual or temporal.

Are you zealous? Does the sad condition of sinners never move you to compassion? Do you, by word and example, try to ennoble men and make them God-like? Remember that you can be a messenger of peace to the fallen.

How do you employ the talents God has given you? Do you use them to spread our holy religion and to make men wiser in the things of God? Forget not that you are a steward from whom a strict account shall be demanded.

Has God blessed you with the goods of this world? What use do you make of them? Does the woeful cry of the widow and orphan, of the sick and helpless, not touch your heart?

Remember that the charity of God cannot abide in you if you refuse to help those whom you see in need. May you heed the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians: "Be ye therefore followers of God, as most dear children, and walk in love as Christ hath also loved us, and hath delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odor of sweetness."