JESUS, MARY, AND JOSEPH.
Jesus. 0 Sweetest, and dearest Jesus! To think on Thee makes the devout soul happy; to love Thee is a foretaste of heaven; but to possess Thee is heaven itself. To labour solely for Thy greater glory, 0 Jesus; to touch and win the sinner's heart; to bring back the strayed sheep to Thy fold; to diffuse among men a greater knowledge and love of Thee, 0 Saviour of the world, is the most noble occupation of the mind of man; and imparts to the pious soul the most supreme happiness that can be tasted here below. Jesus is our all; for Jesus is God: "In the beginning," says the Evangelist, "was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John, i. 1). Jesus is the Incarnate Son of God. "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we saw his glory, the glory, as it were, of the only-begotten of the Father), fall of grace and truth" (John, i. 14). Jesus is not only our glory, and the glory of paradise, but the glory of his eternal Father. "Every tongue," says St. Paul, " shall confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father" (Phil. ii. 11). He is "the brightness of his glory and the figure of his substance" (Heb. i. 3j.
Jesus was the ray of hope that shone upon Adam, cast out from paradise upon a cold, bleak world. Jesus was the Messiah; the "Just 0ne;" "the desired of the eternal hills." Jesus was the long-expected Redeemer, for whose coming the Patriarchs and Prophets sighed and prayed. The Prophet Isaias, in touching accents, thus prayed : "Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened, and bud forth a Saviour" (xlv. 8). "Send forth, 0 Lord, the lamb, the ruler of the earth" (xvi. 1). Having petitioned the earth and the heavens for mercy, the Prophet appeals to the Messiah himself: "0 that thou wouldst rend the heavens, and wouldst come down; the mountains would melt away at thy presence. They would melt as at the burning of fire, the waters would burn with fire, that thy name might be made known to thy enemies: that the nations might tremble at thy presence" (lxiv. 1).
Jesus, as God, is power and glory; but far dearer and sweeter to us is Jesus as merciful Saviour; "with him," sings the Psalmist, "is plentiful redemption" (Ps. cxxix. 7). The name Jesus, or Saviour, is the most noble and the most exalted of all the titles of our Blessed Redeemer. "God," says St. Paul, "also, hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father" (Phil. ii. 9).
The sweet and all-holy name of Jesus was brought from heaven, and pronounced for the first time on earth, by the lips of the Archangel Gabriel. At the Annunciation, the Archangel delivered his heavenly message to the Blessed Virgin: "Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus" (Luke, i. 31). Another "Angel of the Lord" appeared to St. Joseph, and said: "Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus. For he shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. i. 20, 21). Jesus is our Saviour; through the merits of His Precious Blood we have been redeemed. "Neither is there salvation," says the word of God, "in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts, iy. 12). The Precious Blood of Jesus was the price of our Redemption. "Thou art worthy," says the inspired writer, "to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: because thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God in thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.... The lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power and divinity, and wisdom and strength, and honour and glory, and benediction" (Apoo. v. 9,12). "Power," therefore, "and divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and benediction," adoration, love, praise, and thanksgiving be to Jesus, our Saviour, and our Lord, from every creature for all eternity.
The holy name of Jesus is the power of the Catholic Church. To-day, as during the last nineteen centuries, the apostolio missionary quits country, home, and kindred, to evangelise the heathen nation, with his breviary under his arm, his crucifix in hand, his rosary beads in his pocket, and the holy name of Jesus on his lips. Jesus said to His Disciples: "Go ye into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every oreature. ... In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues: they shall take up serpents: and if they shall drink any deadly things, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover" (Mark, xvi. 15-18). Confiding in the mighty power of the holy name of Jesus, St. Peter cured the "man who was lame from his mother's womb," by saying, " In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, arise and walk. . . . And he leaping up, stood, and walked, and went into the temple, walking, leaping, and praising God" (Acts, ill. 6). No wonder that the lame, the blind, the sick, and those labouring'under " all manner of diseases, "recognised t§eir God, and became "whole" at the power of Jesus; for Jesus said to His Disciplesi" Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it to you" (John, xvi. 23).
No wonder that the name of Jesus is sweet, holy, and powerful; for the name Jesus brings to, tour mind the whole scheme of man's Redemption. Jesus, as we have seen, was " the Just 0ne," " the desired of the eternal hills," "the Lamb," " theEuler," the long-expected Messiah, for whose coming the Patriarchs and Prophets prayed and sighed. The winning, the infinite love of Jesus in the Incarnation, in the Nativity, in His Hidden Life, and yet more in his Passion and Death, has won the admiration of the world; has peopled Christendom with cloisters, thus captivating in every age, and in every clime, the pure affections, the warm love of the young, the beautiful, and the fair. 0 dearest Jesus ! may we love Thee; 0 Jesus, may we serve Thee. To Thee, 0 Jesus, we consecrate all the affections of our hearts, now and for ever. 0 Jesus, purify and chasten our affections, and make them acceptable in Thy sight.
The holy name of Jesus, not only reminds us of His Life and of His Death, but it brings to our mind His mystical Life and Death upon our altars* The holy Mass is nothing less than the Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ' In the holy Mass Jesus descends from heaven; and, to use the words of St. Augustine, "becomes incarnate in the priest's hands as He did in Mary's womb." n the Mass Jesus mystically dies, and sheds His Precious Blood for the Redemption of mankind. "The same Christ," says the Council of Trent, "is contained and immolated (on the altar) in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the Cross. . . . For the Victim is one and the same; the same now offering Himself by the ministry of priests who then offered Himself on the Cross" (Sess. xxii., Can. 2). The sweet name of Jesus brings to our mind the Sacrament of the Blessed Eucharist; "the heavenly manna," "the bread of angels," " the wheat of the elect," "the wine producing virgins." In the Holy Communion we receive Jesus Christ Himself—His Body and Blood. The Council of Trent, assisted by the Spirit of God, defined, "that in the Sacrament of the most holy Eucharist are contained truly, really, and substantially the Body and Blood together with the Soul and the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Sess. xiii., Can. 1). 0 holy Faith! that teaches us such sacred, such sublime, and such consoling doctrines. 0 Jesus! may we love, and hear daily, if possible, holy Mass; 0 Jesus! may we love and receive worthily, and frequently, holy Communion.
Jesus, at His Ascension, returned to the bosom of His Eternal Father: yet, by a miracle worthy of the infinite love and mercy of God for man, the same Jesus remains day and night in every land, and in every clime, on countless altars throughout Christendom. From the tahernacle Jesus says to His children, "Come to me all you that labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you" (Matt. xi. 28). And, again, "This is my rest for ever and for ever; here will I dwell, for I have chosen it" (Ps. cxxxi. 14). All—the poor as well as the rich, the sinner as well as the saint—can approach Jesus; speak to Him, and tell Him their wants, their joys, and woes. The name of Jesus, therefore, is holy, powerful, sweet, and brings to our mind the whole scheme of Redemption and sanotification. Jesus is our hope and strength living and dying; and Jesus will be, we trust, our crown beyond the grave.
No wonder that St. Bernard, who tasted the sweetness of the love of Jesus, thus writes: "0 name of Jesus, worthy of all blessing and praise. What so fills the soul with sweetness and spiritual joy P . . . All food is dry if this oil be not poured upon it, and insipid unless seasoned by this salt. If thou writest, I find no relish in it unless I read there the name Jesus. If thou disputest or holdest conversation, I find no relish in it unless the sound of the name of Jesus be heard there. Jesus is honey in the mouth, music in the ear, and jubilation in the heart." (Serm. xv. in Can.)
The loving heart and honeyed pen of St. Francis of Sales have delighted the world with the following exquisite passage on the name of Jesus: "I have no time to write," says the Saint, "only the great name of salvation—Jesus. 0h f could I, oh! could we, pronounce this holy name of salvation from our hearts, what sweetness would it diffuse into our souls 1 How happy should we be had we nothing in our memory or mind but Jesus; nothing in our will but Jesus; nothing in our understanding but Jesus; nothing in our imagination but Jesus. In all things Jesus would be to us, and we should be in all things to Him. But, alas! I cannot express what I mean by pronouncing this holy name of Jesus; to speak of it, or to express it, we ought to have a tongue of fire."
0 sweet, and holy, and adorable Jesus! may Thy loving name he ever on our tongues, and engraven on our hearts during life; and may it be our last invocation at death.