Friday, 23 February 2018

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 20

by Boudreaux, Florentin, 1821-1894

Surely, there was tyranny enough, in the rulers of His day, to merit even then all the abhorrence o£ His gentle Heart, and to receive, in due time, the eternal re-probation which His justice was to decree against it when brought to His tribunal. Fathers held an iron sceptre over their children, masters over their slaves, husbands over their wives; whilst the kings of the nations disposed, with absolute and arbitrary sway, of the property and lives of their subjects, with no other restraint than their own caprice and the impulses of the fickle passions of their own corrupt hearts. The Heart of Jesus knew all this, fathomed all its enormity, and' felt all the bitterness of this injustice and oppression. But is there a single word of resistance ? a single act of insubordination ? a single sentiment or word of His which might be thought to preach sedition? True, He was accused of stirring up the people, of forming a party in His own interest, of aiming at the crown, of refusing to pay tribute to the emperor. But His accusers, His judges, and all the world knew that the charge was false. He had openly declared that what was due to Caesar must be given Him ; He had paid His tribute, though a miracle was required to supply the means ; He had fled to the mountains from those who would make Him king; He had said: “Upon the chair of Moses have sitten the Scribes and the Pharisees : all, therefore, that they shall say to you, observe and do it,” {Matt. xxiii.) thus requiring obedience to the command of those whose souls were full of guile. All the jealousy of the Pharisees, all the malice of the Scribes, all the sleepless vigilance of envious Priests and Levites, could never find, in all His conduct, one real infringement of the divine or human law; and when, at last, their hour was come, and the power of darkness was to be permitted to prevail for a season, false witnesses, popular outcries, and threats of Caesar’s displeasure were the only means left them to accomplish the ruin of their detested rival. But there was no rebellion in the Heart of Jesus, even against this intolerable injustice. He is led like a lamb to the slaughter; He stands humble and silent before His judges; He submits without a murmur to the indignities heaped upon Him by the rabble and by the soldiers of the High Priest; He bears the contempt of Herod and his army, as if all this were due to Him ; He suffers the stripes and the thorns, though condemned to the former after a solemn declaration of His innocence, and enduring the latter from the mere caprice of His brutal tormentors. Like the obedient Isaac, He carries on His shoulders the wood of His sacrifice ; at the word of His executioners, He lays Himself meekly on His cross and stretches out His hands and His feet to be nailed to His dreadful deathbed. Ho angel’s hand stays the arm uplifted to strike Him ; no voice from heaven saves His obedience from death. His sacrifice must be completed; His obedience must be to the end, because He is to love us to the end, and to forget Himself to think only of us to the end ; till even His love can devise nothing more to prove its intensity, its sincerity in the abundance of its redemption. And here, whilst we contemplate this holocaust of obedience, let us listen to the words of the Apostle, who says of Him : “Whereas He was the Son of God, He learned obedience by the things which He suffered, and being made perfect, He became to those who obey Him, a cause of eternal salvation.” (Hebr. v.) It is a bold saying; “The Son of God learned obedience.” He in whom all that is good and holy subsisted in its entire perfection, all virtue and sanctity in their highest possible degree, can hardly be supposed to have needed to learn obedience. Yet He learned it, and learned it by suffering the most unjustly inflicted torments, by being subjected to the most trying abuse of power and authority. And this may comfort and encourage us in our struggle with our rebellious hearts, when we find that after years of painful efforts, we are still far from having learned obedience ; nay, it seems that the longer we practise the lesson, the more difficult it becomes. What wonder that we should fall short of perfection, when even He had to learn this lesson to the last hour of His life ? But He reached that perfection of obedience for us, that we might not lose heart, but continue our endeavours to bend our stubborn minds and our repugnant wills to the authority which God has given others over us. It is thus that the obedience of the Sacred Heart becomes to us a cause of eternal salvation ; because when its love has conquered our hearts, and made them subject to itself, it infuses its own spirit of placid, calm, uncomplaining obedience into them ; the wound of our rebellion is healed; the peace is restored between our hearts and our God, and the lost inheritance is given back to us among the citizens of heaven. And now that we have contemplated the obedience of the Sacred Heart, and have listened to the lessons which it has been pleased to have recorded for our benefit in the gospels, we shall not be surprised to find the same virtue inculcated by those into whose hearts the Spirit of the Sacred Heart was most abundantly poured out. The Apostles, who had drunk at the fountainhead of heavenly wisdom, and who were to be the channels through which the “ copious redemption ” was to be transmitted to us, give us many a lesson of obedience. We have already heard St. Paul threatening damnation to those who would “ resist the powers ordained of God.” There is not a single epistle left us by the same Apostle in which he does not insist on the duty of obedience. “Let every soul be subject to higher powers.” “ Be subject of necessity, not only for wrath,  but also for conscience’s sake.” (Rom. xiii.) “ Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is just.” “ Servants, be obedient to them 'that are your lords according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, as to Christ.” “ Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord.” (Ephes v. and vi ; Colos. iii.) “ Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death.” (Phil, ii.) “ We beseech you that as you have received of us, so also you would walk, for you know what precepts I have given to you. Therefore, he that despiseth these things, despiseth not man, but God.” (1 Thess. iv.) “We have confidence in you, that the things which we command, you both do and will do. And if any man obey not our word, note that man.” (2 Thess. iii.) “Whoever are servants, let them count their masters worthy of all honour.” (1 Tim. vi.) “ Exhort servants to be obedient to their masters in all things. Admonish all to be subject to princes and powers, and to obey at a word ; to be ready to every good work.” (Tit. ii. and iii.)