Of the Treasures and Great Blessings That We Have in Jesus Christ

BUT when the fullness of time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Gal. iv. 4-5). When the fulness of time was come, says the Apostle St. Paul, All other times were, so to speak, void of grace; this time is full of it and of spir­itual gifts, and therefore with good reason it is called the law of grace, since in it there is given us that grace which is the fountain, source, and springhead of all graces. God sent His only-begotten Son made man to deliver us from sin, to redeem and rescue us from the power and servitude of the devil in which we were, to reconcile us to God, to make us His adopted sons, to open to us the gate of heaven which sin was keeping shut.

After the sad fall of our first parents, whereby they lost for themselves and for us the happy state of original jus­tice in which God had created them, and became subject, they and all their descendants, to infinite miseries, one con­solation remained to them in the midst of so many woes— it was that, immediately after Adam had sinned, God cursed the serpent and promised to give at a certain time His only-begotten Son to be made man and suffer for us, and deliver us from the evils into which we had fallen by sin. I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between her seed and thy seed, she shall crush thy head (Gen. iii. 15). This promise consoled them much, and thereupon they did penance, and taught their children the story of the happy state they had held and how they had lost it by sin; but that there should come a Redeemer in Whose virtue they were to be saved. This promise God confirmed many times, especially to certain men who pleased Him most particularly, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, promising them that of their race the Redeemer should be born. The whole reli­gious body of Jews professed this, and the prophets spoke marvels of His coming. They waited for it with cries, groans, and prayers. Oh., that thou wouldst break through the heavens and come down! (Isaias Ixiv. 1). Drop down your dew, ye heavens, and let the clouds rain the Just; let earth open and bud forth a Savior (Isaias xlv. 8). The spouse in the Canticles desired it, saying: Oh, that thou wouldst come forth hither, being made my brother, at the breasts of my mother, that there I might kiss thee and embrace thee, and henceforth none might despise me (Cant, viii. 1), seeing that I have God for my brother. This was all the hope of the Gentiles: He shall be the expectation of the Gentiles (Gen. xlix. 10). They awaited Him as cap­tives await their delivery, and this hope sustained them, and in virtue of Him that was to come their sins were for­given them. As we believe that He has come, so they believed that He was to come; and so they called Him, He that is to come. That was the question they put to St. John the Baptist: Art thou he that is to come, or look we for another f (Matt. xi. 3).

God does not always give us what we need right away, so that we see our Need For Him

But when there came the fulness of time, when the hour had arrived in which God had determined to show this great mercy to the world, He sent His only-begotten Son. He would not send Him at once, that men might better recognize His mercy and desire ‘their cure, and esteem it the more when it was given them. Oftentimes God will not give the remedy or the comfort desired at once, that we may come to see our poverty and the need we are under of having recourse to Him, and not attribute anything to ourselves. There came at last the hour, so precious and so desired, when God had determined to apply a remedy to our fall. This fall and consequent loss none could repair worth­ily and duly but God Himself. The forces of man were not enough for him to lift himself up; the forces of angels were not enough to lift him up; there was need of the strength and power of God. And whereas the redemption had to be wrought out by satisfaction made for the fault, and that a painful satisfaction, and God in His substance and nature could not suffer, His infinite wisdom discovered this means and marvelous invention of the Son of God making Himself man and uniting in one and the same person both natures, divine and human; so was wrought out this portentous transaction of the redemption of mankind. It was an inven­tion full of wisdom and goodness, a manifestation of the infinite greatness and power of God, transcending all the other works that He had done in the world. So the prophet implores: Rouse, O Lord, thy power, manifest Thine omni­potence, and come to save us (Psalm Ixxix. 3). He implores Him to show His power in this coming, because it was a work of the greatest stretch of power that God could put forth in this world. So says St. Augustine: The creation of the world was a great work; the creation of so many perfect creatures was a sign of God’s power; and so the Church sings: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Crea­tor of heaven and earth; but compared with the redemption of the world, that work was as zero. So David calls cre­ation the work of the fingers of God: I contemplate thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and stars which thou hast created (Psalm viii. 4) ; but when there is ques­tion of the redemption of the human race, it is called the work of His arm. He hath put forth might in his arm (Luke i. 51). The difference between arm and finger is the difference of the one work from the other.

Not only was this work a manifestation of the power and greatness of God, but also of the greatness of man and the value that God sets upon him, much more than the work of creation. So says the Church: “O God, Who hast won­derfully created the dignity of human nature, and still more wonderfully restored it.” God did a great deal for man when He created him, but much more when He redeemed him. Pope St. Leo says: “God raised man to a high degree of being when He created Him to His image and likeness; but He raised and ennobled him far more by making Him­self, God as He was, not merely in the image and likeness of man, but true man.” So many and so great are the bene­fits that have accrued to us from God’s having made Him­self man for our redemption, that in exchange for them we ought to take Adam’s fault for a blessing to the world. So the Church on Holy Saturday, rapt in spirit in a transport of love, entertaining and delighting herself in Christ her Spouse, sings: “O happy evil, by which so great good has come to men! O happy infirmity, that has been cured by such a medicine!” More has been given to us by Christ than has been taken away from us by Adam. Greater is the gain of the redemption than the loss of the fall. Not as was the offense hath been the gift, says the Apostle St. Paul (Rom. v. 15), considering that the grace which Christ has imparted to the world is greater than the loss caused to it by the sin of Adam. And St. Bernard, alleging this tes­timony of St. Paul, says: “Much mischief did one man and one woman do to us; but infinite thanks be given to God for that by means of another man and another woman, Christ and the Virgin, not only has that mischief been repaired, but repaired to great advantage, since the great­ness of the benefit and the gift given us infinitely exceeds the harm done us.”

The Treasures and Benefits we have in Jesus Christ are Innumerable

It is impossible to enumerate or say the great benefits and treasures that we have in Christ. The Apostle St. Paul says that the Lord had given him this grace of preach­ing and declaring to the Gentiles these inestimable riches and treasures (Eph. iii. 8). This grace we needed just now. Christ Himself said to the Samaritan woman: 0 woman, if thou didst know the gift of God! (John iv. 10), the bless­ing that He has given to the world. This so signal gift that He promised to give in this His Son, He has now given. This gift well deserves the name of gift, since in it are contained all the gifts of God. With him He hath given us all things (Rom. viii. 2). Oh, if we knew and understood this gift and the great blessings that we have therein! Oh, if the Lord would open to us this vein and discover to us this mine, this so excellent treasure! How rich we should become! How happy should we be! God had done this favor to St. Augustine, and so he said: “Lord, he who will not serve Thee for the benefit of creation well deserves hell, but a new hell should be prepared for him who will not serve Thee for that of redemption.”

It is told of Father Master Avila that he was so full of this thought that, when anyone wondered at any favor that the Lord had done him, he used to say: “Do not wonder at that, but wonder and be amazed that God has so loved you as to become man for your sake.” God hath so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son (John ii. 16). The Apostle and Evangelist St. John knew not how to utter or set forth the height of the degree of love that God has shown us otherwise than by taking the height of the love as being in proportion to the gift. By the sovereign excel­lence of the gift that He has given us, you will see the love that He bore us. The love was as great as the gift was great; now God has loved the world so much as to give His only-begotten Son to be made man, that by His death we might live. “O marvelous love,” sings the Church; “O inestimable charity, that Thou didst give up Thine only-begotten Son to redeem a slave!” Who could imagine such a thing! What captive among the Moors in Barbary would dare to petition his king: “Sire, send hither thy only son to come to die among these infidels to ransom me”? But what you would not dare to open your mouth on, what you could not think or imagine, what could never enter your mind, that God has done for you.

God became Man so that Man could become like God

Furthermore, not only has He delivered us from the cap­tivity in which we lay, but He has raised us to the dignity of sons of God. He has taken our nature to make us partakers of His; God has become man to make us sons of God. See what love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called and be sons of God, says St. John (I John iii. 1; Gal. iv. 5).   See the charity and bounty of the Lord and the great favor that He has done us, in that we not only call ourselves sons of God, but in reality are so; with truth we call God Father, and Jesus Christ His Son Brother. Thus He does not disdain, St. Paul says (Heb. ii. 11), to hold us for His brethren and call us so, but it looks as though He prided Himself on it.   Many times does He use this term, and openly call us His brethren (John xx. 17). But whoever has God for Father, and Jesus Christ for Brother, in Whose hands is all power in heaven and on earth (Matt, xxviii. 18), what more is there for him to desire?   When the brethren of Joseph saw their brother enthroned in Egypt, and having command over all the land, and that Pharaoh dispatched all affairs through him, and Joseph had removed the fear they felt for the offense they had given him, how joyful, how contented, how confident they were!   Come with me, and I will give you all the good things of Egypt (Gen. xlv. 18).   Now that is what Christ our Redeemer does for us, seeing that He is our Brother and loves us more than Joseph did his brethren; He wishes to take us all with Him.   He says by St. John (xvii. 24) : Father, them that thou hast given me, I would that where I am, they also should be with me. He gives us chariots to go there, in the many sacraments and gratuitous bounties that we have given us for that end.

And if they put before you the offenses and sins that you have committed against Him, to fill you with distrust and discouragement, by this time He has forgotten them for the penance you have done. And not only that, but He Himself is our advocate and intercessor with His eternal Father, to obtain for us mercy and pardon. The Apostle and Evangelist St. John encourages us with this reflection. My children, sin not; but if anyone hath sinned, let him not lose confidence, since we have for advocate before the Father, Jesus Christ his Son (I John ii. 1). And the Apos­tle St. Paul says that Christ has ascended to heaven to do the office of advocate and agent on our behalf in the court of the Father (Heb. ix. 24). St. Bernard says that He is there in heaven showing and presenting to the eternal Father His wounds, saying that it is for us that He received them and at His command, and begging Him not to let that be lost which has cost Him so dear. As the most holy Queen of Angels shows her ever-blessed Son the breasts which gave Him suck, interceding for us; so the Son shows the eternal Father the wounds and blows that He received for us. And the saints say that that was one of the reasons why He would have it that the marks and openings of those wounds should remain after His glorious Resurrection.

Jesus made Our Sins His Own

When Jacob died, Holy Writ says that his sons were afraid of their brother Joseph, lest he might then take occa­sion to avenge upon them the injuries for which he had taken no vengeance in the lifetime of his father. And they said to him: “Our father at the hour of his death desired no greater good for his children than that their brother would pardon them, and forget past wrongs: we also pray thee to forgive this iniquity to the servant of God thy father*’ (Gen. 1. 17). It is much to be observed that it was not their father who had done those wrongs, but his pater­nal love made the errors of his sons his own. So Christ our Redeemer, for the great love He bears us, makes our errors and sins His own, charging Himself with them and becom­ing our surety. The Lord hath laid upon him the iniquities of us all: the iniquities of us all he shall bear, says Isaias (liii. 6, 11). Let us, then, go with this same embassy and petition to the eternal Father, and say: “Eternal Father, pardon these my sins to Thy Son Jesus Christ, Who left nothing more earnestly commended than this in the hour of His death: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke xxiii. 34). Under this plea who can doubt of being pardoned ?

Ye have drawn nigh to the sprinkling of the blood that speaketh better than that of Abel, says the Apostle St. Paul (Heb. xii. 24). Abel’s blood cried for vengeance, but the blood of Christ cries for mercy upon those for whom it was shed and even those very persons who shed it. When, then, the devil shall put before you the multitude of your sins and miseries to make you lose heart and despair, fix your eyes on Jesus Christ; imagine that He takes you therewith by the hand and presents you to His Father and answers and pleads for you as your advocate and agent; that He covers your confusion and shame with the merits and services that He has rendered to His Father, and thereby you shall take heart again and your discourage­ment shall be exchanged for hope and your sorrow for joy, since He is our justice, sanctification, and redemption, as the Apostle says (I Cor. i. 30).

St. Ambrose says: “We have all things in Christ, and Christ is all things to us—Omnia habemus in Christo, et omnia Christus est nobis. If you desire to be cured of your wounds, He is a physician; if you are in a burning fever, He is a fountain; if you are wearied under the burden of sin, He is righteousness; if you are in need of assistance, He is strength; if you fear death, He is life; if you desire heaven, He is the way thither; if you wish to avoid darkness, He is light; if you are in need of food, He is sustenance. All that you can desire and have need of, you will find in Him.” And in another place he says: “If the wolf comes out against you, take the stone, which is Christ. If you have recourse to Him, the wolf will fly and not be able to frighten you, much less harm you. St. Peter had recourse to this stone when he began to be afraid in the midst of the waves, and at once he found what he sought, for Christ took him by the hand and delivered him from the danger.” St. Jerome on that passage of St. Paul: Brethren, henceforth be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might; and put ye on the armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand the snares and temptations of the devil (Eph. vi. 10), says that from what follows and from the whole tenor of Holy Scrip­ture, speaking of Christ our Redeemer, we gather clearly that the whole armor of God which the Apostle here bids us put on, is Christ our Redeemer. Thus it is the same thing to say, Put ye on the armor of God, and to say, Put ye on Jesus Christ. And he goes on to prove how Christ is our breastplate and our helmet, our coat of mail and our shield, and our two-edged sword, and all the rest. Thus the armor that we have to put on and arm ourselves withal in order to resist all the temptations of the devil, and defend ourselves against all his deceits and ambushes, and come out victorious, is the power of Christ. Christ is all things to us, and we have all things in Him.

For the better understanding of this, Holy Scripture attributes to Him innumerable names and titles—King, Master, Shepherd, Priest, Friend, Father, Brother, Spouse, Light, Life, Fountain, and the like. And as the Apostle says that in Him are locked up all the treasures of the wis­dom and knowledge of the Father (Col. ii. 3), so also in Him are locked up all our treasures and riches, since in Him is the warrant for all our good and remedy for all our ills. As for all our good works, if they have any merit, it is on His account. Their value comes of their being dyed in His blood, as was told to St. John in the Apocalypse, of that so great multitude which he saw standing before the throne of God, a multitude that no man could number, clothed in white and shining robes and with palms in their hands. These are they that have washed their robes, and have dyed them white in the blood of the Lamb (Apoc. vii. 14). All our good things are, as it were, scraps and frag­ments of the riches of Christ; all the boons and blessings that come to us come through His merits; by Him we are delivered from all temptations and dangers; by Him we gain all virtues: in short, we have all things in Christ, we should gain all for Christ, and we should attribute all to Christ. So the Church terminates and concludes all her prayers and petitions by saying, per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, in accordance with that text of the prophet: Loofc down, 0 God our Protector, and cast thine eyes upon the face of thy Christ (Psalm Ixxxiii. 10); par­don our sins for the love Thou bearest Him, since He has died for them on a cross; cast Thine eyes on the wounds that He has suffered for us, and have mercy on us.

If the services of Abraham, Jacob, and David were enough in the estimation of God to appease Him and hold His hand, so as to prevent Him from punishing His people —and not only that, but to make Him confer many favors and blessings on His people for their sakes, as we see that the Lord said repeatedly, for the sake of David my servant (Isaias xlv. 4; IV Kings xix. 34)—how much more will the eternal Father not do for the sake of Jesus Christ His Son, in whom He is so well pleased (Matt. xvii. 5). So says the Apostle St. Paul: He hath given us grace in his beloved Son (Eph. i. 6). And Christ Himself says and assures us that anything whatsoever that we ask the Father in His name shall be done, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John xiv. 13).

Oh, what good reason had the angel to say to the shep­herds on the night that the Lord was born, and in them to us: Lo, I bring you tidings of great joy, for this day is born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke ii. 10-11). This is not one joy, but many joys and many good things. Isaias says in the singular, of him that bringeth tidings of good (Isaias Hi. 7); while St. Paul quotes the passage in the plural, of them that bring tidings of good things (Rom. x. 15). Origen asks the reason of this differ­ence, and says it is because Jesus Christ is not only one good thing, but all good things. He is our salvation, our life, our resurrection, light of the world, truth, way, gate of heaven, wisdom, power, and treasury of all good things; for us He was born and died, that we might live; for us He rose again, that we might rise again; for us He ascended into heaven—/ go to prepare you a ‘place, and it is expedi­ent for you that I go (John xiv. 2; xvi. 7). Prom thence He sent us the Holy Ghost; and there He is at the right hand of the Father, doing us continual favors and benefits. St. Cyprian says that He left open the openings of His wounds, to show that they remained as channels and foun­tains, streaming with treasures and graces, and so they go on streaming forever with the utmost liberality, and never can run dry. He has hands of gold, full of precious stones (Cant. v. 14); and as He is generous to a degree, His gifts find their way out by those openings. Conclude we, then, with the conclusion that St. Paul draws: Having, then, a high priest and mediator so great as Jesus Christ, Son of God, who hath penetrated the heavens, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and is equal to Him, let us go with great confidence to the throne of His grace, that we may gain mercy and favor in all our needs (Heb. iv. 14, 16). Of the blessed St. Bernard we read in the story of his life that, in a severe illness which he had, he was trans­ported out of himself, and being in a kind of ecstasy he thought they carried him before the tribunal of God, and that there the devil accused him and laid his charges against him, saying that he deserved not the glory of heaven. The saint answered: “I confess that I am not worthy of eternal glory, but my Lord Jesus Christ is worthy of it, and possesses heaven on two titles: the one, because He is the only-begotten Son of God and heir to the heavenly kingdom; the other, because He has bought it with His blood, by His obedience to His Father even unto death. He is content with the former of these two titles, and that by itself is sufficient for Him. He makes a pres­ent of the latter to me, and in virtue of that I hold my right to heaven; on that I take my stand and am confi­dent.” Whereupon the malicious accuser stood abashed, the apparatus of judge and tribunal disappeared, and the saint returned to himself. In this, then, we should place our confidence; this should be all our hope. Jacob, clad in the garments of his elder brother, gained the blessing of his father. Let us clothe ourselves in Jesus Christ, our elder Brother; let us cover ourselves with the fell of this immaculate Lamb; let us avail ourselves of His merits and Passion, and in that way we shall gain the blessing of the eternal Father.

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