THOU knowest well, O Lord, that likeness is a cause of love, and that there is no union of affection between two different subjects that are not in some respects alike. O infinite goodness of my God! what tongue could describe the things which Thou hast done in order to be loved by a vile worm of the earth such as I am? Thou didst bestow benefits without number upon man before Thy Incarnation, and didst visit him with innumerable gifts from heaven in order that, being allured by so many blessings, and seeing himself under such great obligations, he might fix his affections on so munificent a Benefactor; and seeing that all this did not secure his love to Thee, Thou didst desire to make Thyself like him and to become true man such as he is, in order that by this course Thou mightest gain his love. Before this there was great dissimilarity, and in many respects we were different and of distinct and diverse characters; for Thou, Lord, wast impassible[note 1], invisible, immortal, infinite, incomprehensible and eternal, while we are passible, visible, mortal, finite and limited, comprehensible creatures, temporal and earthly. But so unspeakable was Thy Charity and Love which Thou hast towards us that being such as Thou art Thou didst desire to be that which we are, by taking into Thy Divine Substance our human nature, being made man like us, mortal and passible, visible and, resembling us, in order to be loved by us. And when it was necessary that for our redemption and life Thou shouldst absent Thyself from us, and after Thy death shouldst enter heaven and seat Thyself in our likeness at the right hand of the Father before removing from our eyes Thy bodily Presence, Thou didst, as a parting gift, institute the most holy Sacrament of the Altar, in order that, having Thy bodily Presence always before us, we should never be able to forget Thee. Thou didst appear in the world a true Man, being God in the likeness of sinful flesh;[Rom. viii. 3.] in the sufferings which Thou didst endure in that nature, though not in guilt, from which Thou wast wholly free; like sinful flesh in the pains and death which sin brought into the world and which Thou didst endure without deserving them. In this way Thou didst overcome sin, and with it death, which entered into the world by it; as some one with the branches of a tree communicates fire to the tree itself, so that, as the apostle says, "from sin came the destruction and condemnation of sin".[Rom. viii. 3.] O good Jesus, how much more reason have we to sing Thy praises than the women who sang of the prowess of David,[1 Kings xviii. 7.] who slew the giant with his own weapons! Thou, Lord, didst enter into the battlefield against the proud Evil Spirit, against whom no one had ventured, and with the staff of Thy cross and with patient endurance rather than with a stone, having concealed the weapons of Thy Divinity, Thou didst destroy him, cutting off his head with his own sword,[1 Kings xvii. 51.] which are the effects of sin, viz., pains and death. And thus Thou didst condemn sin in the flesh by giving Thy most holy Flesh to pains and death, whereby Thy honour was all the greater and the dishonour inflicted on the foe the more shameful. In this Thou didst show the great love which Thou bearest us and didst discover the treasures of Thy infinite wisdom, and hast manifested to the world Thy exalted power. When a knot is well made, the more its ends are strained, the more forcibly it is tightened. Thou, Lord, being God, didst so tie Thyself to our human nature that when death drew the ends together then the bond of love was tightened all the more, so as never more to separate; for that which Thou hast once taken upon Thee Thou hast never cast aside, but rather Thou hast manifested all the more the boundless love which Thou bearest to us. In this way those who once lay hold of Thee by love would sooner cast away life itself and lose it than desert Thee or sacrifice Thy love. Lord, what couldst Thou do for us that Thou hast not done? Thou being inaccessible and heaven being closed to our sins, and not being able, through the weight of our offences, to reach Thee, Thou, Most Merciful Lord, hast designed to come to us in the lowliness of our flesh in order that we might be able to draw near to Thy Divine Majesty and enjoy Thy mercies. When a fierce bull stalks boldly and freely into the arena, few would dare to go near to him; but if he were afterwards tied and bound, any one who wished could approach him without fear. Before Thou wast incarnate, Lord, and didst invest Thyself with our mortality, no one dared to draw near to Thee, and for this reason Moses said to the people of Israel that no one should draw nigh to the foot of the mountain where Thou wast when Thou didst give the law, neither man nor beast, that they might not die.[Exod. xix. 12-13.] Oza drew near and touched the ark of the Covenant and died immediately.[2 Kings vi. 6-7.] Nadab and Abiu, sons of Aaron, drew near, and were punished by sudden death.[Lev. x. 1-2.] King Ozias also approached the altar, and was smitten with leprosy.[2 Par. xxvi. 16-21.] Wherefore David speaking of Thee in the psalm, said, "Thou art the God to Whom vengeance belongeth".[Ps. xciii. 1.] But after Thou didst unite Thyself with our human nature and didst submit Thyself to the yoke of mortality by becoming Man, the Gospel declares that the publicans and sinners drew nigh to Thee, and that Thou didst eat with them.[Luke xv. 1-2.] Not only didst Thou not drive them away or put them to death, but rather didst receive them graciously, and mercifully forgave them their sins and lovingly consoled them. Do not fly, then, my soul; do not fly from thy Spouse Jesus Christ; for however foul and stained with sin thou mayest be, the Lord came down from heaven to the earth in the likeness of sinful flesh in order to wash away thy uncleannesses and to pardon thy offences. Who ever did so much for any bride as Christ did for human nature? If a very powerful king, becoming enamoured of a black captive, loved her so much as not only to ransom but even to marry her, would not that be exceeding love? And if, not content with this, he should desire to die for her transgressions, how much greater love would his love then be? O Spouse of my soul. Prince of Glory and King of Heaven, Thou hast done all this for me, for Thou hast loved me so much that Thou hast not only ransomed me, but, having been made Man, Thou hast betrothed Thyself in a Virginal Bride-chamber to human nature in an indissoluble marriage, and hast so exalted it that what is said of Thee in respect to Thy Godhead, that Thou art the Creator impassible and omnipotent, may be also said of Thee as God made Man; and that which is said in respect of Thee as Man may be also said, by community of titles and names, of God, viz., that He died, suffered and was buried; and Thy ineffable love did not cease here, since Thou didst desire to die for my sins and offences. Aaron and Mary [Miriam] murmured against their brother, Moses, because he had married an Ethiopian woman.[Num. xii. 1.] What would they have said, then, if he had died for her? But Thou, O Lord, didst not only give Thyself to us in Thy most holy Incarnation to be made Man, but wast willing to lose Thy life upon the cross in order to bestow life upon us.

1. I.e., unable to suffer or feel pain. [back]