by Boudreaux, Florentin, 1821-1894
The Meekness of the Sacred Heart.
“Learn of me because I am meek and humble of heart.” — Matt. xi. 29.
AT the very entrance of the Paradise of God, which is the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we read this sentence, written in letters of heavenly light. These words are at the same time an invitation and a warning — an invitation, because we are bid to approach and be instructed. Our Teacher is prepared to give us our lessons. "Come, my children,” he says, “ hearken to me. I will teach you ; come to me and be enlightened, and your faces shall not be confounded.” (Ps. xxxiii.) There is no severity or harshness, no long array of hard conditions to be fulfilled ; “ come, hearken, be enlightened ; ” this is all that is required. It is an invitation of the most pressing kind, an almost irresistible drawing of our souls towards this Divine Teacher. But it is at the same time a warning, because we must come prepared to listen and to learn — we must be willing to receive the lessons which He will give us, and those lessons are not such as the world has been teaching us ; we must forget all that we learned in that bad school, and open our minds and hearts to lessons of meekness and humility. If we are thus disposed, the heavenly light in which those words are emblazoned on the entrance of the Sacred Heart will not dazzle our eyes; we. need not fear, we may enter with confidence into this Divine School. We call it a school and yet a Paradise; there is no contradiction in this. For as there are two methods of imparting worldly knowledge — one by abstract principles, another by the easier and more interesting method of practice or example — so here, we are taught in this latter mode ; we are introduced at once into this fair garden of delights and learn the nature and the value of its various plants and flowers and fruits, by feasting our eyes on their loveliness, by adorning ourselves with their beauty and filling our hearts with their nourishment. And since our Divine Teacher gives us meekness as his first lesson, since meekness is the first of the rare and precious fruits which we meet in His Sacred Heart, let us begin by learning this first lesson — the meekness of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is not meekness in general ; for, our Teacher will not speak of anything beyond Himself or of which He is not Himself the perfection and the model. It is the meekness of the Sacred Heart which we are to study.; it is this first fruit of the Paradise which we are to taste ; it is with this fair flower’s fragrance that we are to be refreshed. Meekness, according to the Angelic Doctor, is a moral virtue which restrains anger and banishes all thought or desire of revenge in return for injuries received. This then is the characteristic virtue of the Sacred Heart. That lovely region of heavenly peace is free from all excitement of passion; no storms ever disturb its serenity ; the gentlest zephyrs waft its perfumes on their wings. It is the abode of God with men, and therefore is a holy Temple, in which perpetual tranquillity reigns. We call meekness the characteristic virtue of the Sacred Heart, because our Lord himself indicates it to us as such when He says: “ learn of me because I am meek;” because in the types and figures and prophecies of the old law, meekness and clemency seem to be the leading features in the bright picture of His coming glory. He is the meek and gentle Abel sacrificed to his brother’s envy ; the obedient Isaac laid unmurmuring on the altar to be slain; the patient and forgiving Joseph sold into bondage by his jealous brethren. He is the Lamb slain for the safety of his people, whose blood screens them from the blows of God’s anger ; He is prefigured by the gentle dove that was offered as an oblation of peace ; of Him it is said that He will be the Prince of Peace ; in His kingdom eternal tranquillity shall reign ; there shall be no clamor, no contentions; dragons and lions shall be banished or made harmless. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid and the calf, and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. (Is. xi.) Of Him it is said: “Behold a king shall reign in justice, and the work of justice shall be peace, and the service of justice, quietness and security for ever ; the broken reed he shall not break and the smoking flax he shall not quench.” (Is. xlii.) But there is no end to the amiable pictures of meekness furnished by the Old Testament as types of the Sacred Heart. Let us pass on to the Gospels. The first name given to our Divine Lord by him who was sent to introduce Him to the world, is u the Lamb of God.” “Behold the Lamb of God,” said John the Baptist to the Jews who stood near him when Jesus approached. (Jon. i. 29.) That title, which is the most striking expression for all that is gentle and meek, forbearing and uncomplaining, that name which is universally received as synonymous with meekness itself, is the first by which Jesus is made known to men ; and it is by His own inspiration that His holy Precursor thus announces Him to the world. Is not this as much as if He said to us that meekness was to be his predominant and characteristic trait, his favorite quality, the virtue most dear to His Heart ? What other lesson then could we expect from him as his first, but that of meekness : learn of me because I am meek of heart? But to form a more adequate idea of the meekness of the Sacred Heart, we must go back to the ages of eternity, when God was alone in His all-sufficient majesty and beatitude. Before the angels were called forth from nothingness to sing their glad hymns around the throne of God ; before the earth was poised on its foundations ; before . the morning stars sang together in praise of the hand that had made them ; before man stood in Paradise, a bright and happy image of his Maker: we can study the meekness of that Heart which was, in the mind of God, the Heart of hearts, the first of all hearts, the Heart upon which all other hearts were to be modelled, and by which all other hearts were to be judged. There, in that silent but all-blissful eternity, deep down in the unfathomable bosom of the Eternal Father, the Divine Word knew and foresaw what was to be. He had before His view the entire cycle of the creation that was destined to revolve around Him as its centre, that was to go forth from God through Him, and through Him return to God — and oh ! what a sight that was to His Divine eye ! There was beauty and grace, glory and greatness, countless myriads of bright manifestations of God’s power and goodness and wisdom and love, a world of loveliness destined to give glory to its Creator. But at the same time, there was a scene of wild desolation, a widespread, hopeless ruin, a deluge of dark and death-bearing iniquity, a world marred and ruined by the malice and ingratitude of its inhabitants, a countless host of creatures formed after His model and blessed with His wonderful gifts, yet overwhelmed with sin, darkened and doomed, by the wickedness of their own hearts.