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A Meditation On The Incarnation Of Christ, Sermons On The Life And
Passion Of Our Lord And Of Hearing And Speaking Good Words. -Thomas A Kempis

BLESSED are the eyes: that see the things which you see. This sweet word of our Lord Jesus Christ, is often to be brought back to memory; to Whom the inner eyes of the mind should be raised in spirit: on Whom the angels long to gaze. For the sight of Him rejoices above all things; the enjoyment of Him fills every desire of the soul: His face beatifies all the saints in Heaven. But what shall they do, who are still in pilgrimage on earth; and cannot enjoy the glory of the eternal brightness? They shall see Him: but not yet. They shall see Him from afar: but not yet close at hand. For they see Him now by faith: but not yet by sight. For they see now in a glass in a dark manner: but then face to face. They see now in briefest moments: but then continually. They see now imperfectly and obscurely: but then clearly and openly. They see now truly; because they believe firmly and well: but then they shall see all fully without a veil. Blessed then those eyes which now behold Jesus in the light of faith: that hereafter they may see Him in His kingdom with the angels of God. For their conversation is in Heaven according to the spirit: although in the body they be still detained on earth.

But now tell me, devout and faithful soul, which lovest Christ with whole-hearted affection, and strivest to follow the footsteps of Christ; tell me, I say, if the choice were given thee and it were possible: in what form thou wouldst desire and prefer to see Jesus. Which would please thee more, if it were allowed to see Him. laid in the manger, or seated in the midst of the doctors, or preaching to the people, or also hanging on the cross? Which of these dost thou affect more: which tastes sweeter, which touches more deeply? I am unwilling, she says, to make a choice in this matter; I DO NOT WISH TO BE MY OWN MASTER, I DO NOT WISH TO FOLLOW MY OWN INCLINATION, OR TO BE LED BY MY OWN EMOTIONS: BUT I WISH TO BE IN EVERY WAY CONTENTED WITH THE GOOD PLEASURE OF MY LORD JESUS CHRIST; Who can sound and invisibly penetrate the secret depths of my heart: so that He Himself be to me all in all, according to the need of my weakness. What therefore shall better please Him, that let Him do freely; in whatever manner He wishes to appear so let Him show Himself to me: for all that He does will be grateful. When I rightly consider, He is all to me in each; nor shall any change of figure or age alter the faith of truth: for Christ is undivided, truly to be worshipped in all these appearances. I feel that it will be safest for me: to stand by His decision without any will of my own. I have however a desire ceaselessly burning: lovingly to gaze upon Him. For it would certainly be a great and precious gift of grace: if He granted me to see but one of those which I have besought. Herein I accept beforehand His yea and nay: that it may be done unto me according to His word, in everything desirable or saddening without sin. Let Him but will and manifest Himself to me; I will not discuss the appearance of the human form: if only it be permitted to behold Him in the Godhead. But since this manner of beholding, is the highest and belongs to the blessed; meanwhile I shall be contented, like all the faithful, if I merit to see Jesus in the semblance of His humanity: as sometimes He has revealed Himself in secret vision to certain devout. Therefore, if He show Himself a babe lying in the cradle: I will wholly worship Him God emptied for me, a child in the flesh; I will praise and exult over the unheard-of gift of His so great love and littleness: full of all sweetness and joy. For whom would it not delight to see so gracious a little babe, honoured by angels’ praises; to embrace so holy a Child, pure from all defilement: visited by the holy shepherds, reverently worshipped by the most noble Magi. Lo, this tastes sweeter and affects more tenderly; this fills with greater love my innermost soul rather than His other deeds and wonders: whereby He was made manifest in the world true God and man, wailing in a little crib. For this vision is needed a pure eye, a humble mind, a strong faith, a clean conscience; that the God of glory may be seen in frail flesh: and in the form of a slave, the Creator of Heaven and earth.

But what of the eternal Wisdom of the Father in the midst of the doctors hearing them, and answering their questions? Certainly it is delightful to behold the most beautiful boy of twelve years, adorned with all moral rectitude; darkened by no stain from the sole of His foot to the crown of His head: Who can now speak perfectly, and return answer, and give proof of His unblemished righteousness; so that the eyes of all were fixed upon Him in sudden wonder: and all desired to be refreshed by His presence and sweet discourse. Therefore I also long to gaze a while most intently upon the face of Jesus Christ: and mark what words of wisdom come from His mouth. Behold He sits in the midst of the doctors: the boy Jesus, the Lord of angels. He listens to teachers on earth, Who instructs the angels in Heaven. He asks questions of His elders: THAT ALL THE YOUNG MAY LEARN TO HOLD THEIR PEACE AND BE REVERENT IN THE PRESENCE OF SENIORS. He behaves Himself very modestly; He sits quietly, He is respectfully silent: when He is questioned, He responds discreetly: there is nothing light in His word or action: and in the midst of the wise; He shows forth a pattern of perfect maturity in the years of boyhood. If one had traversed all Jerusalem: thinkest thou he could have found such a child, so lovely and wise? By no means. Nor was there such a one in all the confines of Israel: even if Solomon and all the sons of the kings had been there. Verily there is none like to Him either in Heaven or on earth: or among all lawgivers and teachers. Wherefore it was not strange, if Mary sorrowed much: when she had lost her so dear Child, fair beyond all the children of men. For His face was bright with wondrous pleasantness; His eyes clear, His lips pure: His speech sweet, His answer full of wisdom. When He is silent, He edifies; when He answers, He instructs: virtuous is everything that He does and says. If He produces such sweet fruits in the bud; what will He bring forth in the ripeness of the harvest?

O how delightful it is to a loving soul to contemplate Jesus of Nazareth, the man approved of God, renowned among the people for His signs and wonders: and preaching to the disciples words of life, sweeter than the honey and the honeycomb. If it had been given me for only one day to converse with my Lord in the world, I should deem myself happy: nor should I ever forget that day, for the sublime teaching and lowly conversation of the Son of God with the children of men: Who shunned not the poor or the feeble: but was wont to eat even with publicans and sinners. Alas how foolish is he: who, even for a short moment, turns away the eye of his heart from the light of this most holy example, kindled in the world. We must deem that HE WILL CONTINUE LONG UNLEARNED AND UNWISE, WHO CONFORMS NOT HIS LIFE TO THE HUMILITY OF THE HUMBLE GOD. Very well felt and wrote THE GREAT PAUL, enlightened by God, saying, “To me to live is Christ: and to die is gain.” Therefore are my eyes ever to my Lord Jesus Christ: for He is my rule and my wisdom. For the perfection of all virtue shines forth in Him, as in a bright mirror; nor can anything better or more perfect in any book or science be discovered and known and contemplated: than in this book of life, and true light enlightening every man, AND TRANSPORTING INTO HIS LOVE ESPECIALLY THE POOR IN SPIRIT.

But above all precious perfumes, the Passion of my Lord Jesus Christ diffuses its sweet odour: containing in brief summary the treasure-store of all graces. Therefore it gives chiefest delight to behold Jesus hanging on the cross, and showing me the most holy wounds of His body: livid indeed with pain, but bright with love, beyond all His actions inducing compunction: so that save Jesus Christ and Him crucified, nothing pleases my mind to think, or read, or speak, or hear. May God do this to me and add this, Who refuses not His mercy to sinners, and is lovingly nigh and favourable to the affections of the devout: that the most sacred Passion of my Lord Jesus Christ never fade from my memory: but the grief and LOVE OF THE MOST LOVING CRUCIFIED pierce and wound my heart, and most mightily unite and inflame: so that the whole world grow vile to me, and Jesus crucified alone above all give relish: and more intimately and most frequently lead me unto the inner mysteries of His Passion.

In many other ways also, according to the desire of the loving soul, the dear Jesus can wondrously reveal Himself: and more fully instruct concerning His most holy life and precious death and the glory of His resurrection; so that what the sacred gospels teach and unfold in words outwardly: Jesus, coming in the spirit, Himself wisely and spiritually explains within, without noise of words, with great enlightenment of the supreme truth, unto the grasping even of the glory of the Godhead; as it is sometimes given to purified minds to enjoy by rapture of the spirit, for the comfort of human frailty: according to that which blessed Jesus Himself promised saying, “I am the door; by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved: and he shall go in and shall go out, and shall find pastures.” Amen.








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