Kingship of Christ is understood through the love of Christ
In light of this blog's previous meditation on the glorious feast of Christ the King, and how Christ’s kingship is only understood through the cross – in a similar manner to Easter – it seems fitting to draw from St. Alphonsus Ligouri’s meditation on the great love of God for man, which is so central to establishing the Kingship of Christ.
Writing in his great work, The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, Ligouri describes the torment endured by Christ during His passion, and expounds on the great love which the God-man has for men. This feast is one of great glory, but one which is only to be understood through properly dwelling on the suffering of Christ. Such suffering cannot be understood in turn, without comprehending the immense love which He has for men. With this in mind, Ligouri’s words on the love of Christ for men provide the perfect basis for considering the Kingship of Christ and how it might be effected on earth once more.
“It is of faith that Jesus has loved us, and for love of us has given himself over unto death: Christ hath loved us, and hath delivered Himself up for us? And where would ever have been the power to make an omnipotent God die, had not he of himself voluntarily willed to give his life for us? I give My life . . . no one taketh it from Me; but I lay it down of Myself: Wherefore St. John observes that Jesus, by his death, gave us the uttermost proof that he could have given us of his love: Having loved His own, He loved them to the end. Jesus, by his death, says a devout writer, gave us the greatest possible sign of his love, beyond which there remained for him nothing that he could do in order to show how much he loved us: The highest proof of love was that which he showed forth at the end of his life upon the cross.
My Beloved is white and ruddy, chosen out of thousands? O my Jesus, Thou art all white through Thy spotless innocence: but upon this cross Thou art also all ruddy with wounds suffered for me. I choose Thee for the one and only object of my love. And whom shall I love, if I love not Thee? What is there that I can find amongst all other objects more lovely than Thee, my Redeemer, my God, my all? I love Thee, O most lovely Lord. I love Thee above everything. Do Thou make me love Thee with all my affection, and without reserve.
‘Oh, if thou didst know the mystery of the cross,’ said St. Andrew to the tyrant. O tyrant (it was his wish to say), wert thou to understand the love which Jesus Christ has borne thee, in willing to die upon a cross to save thee, thou wouldst abandon all thy possessions and earthly hopes, in order to give thyself wholly to the love of this thy Saviour. The same ought to be said to those Catholics who, believing as they do, the Passion of Jesus, yet do not think of it. Ah, were all men to think upon the love which Jesus Christ has shown forth for us in his death, who would ever be able not to love him?
It was for this end, says the Apostle, that He, our beloved Redeemer, died for us, that, by the love He displayed towards us in his death, He might become the possessor of our hearts: To this end Christ died, and rose again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living; therefore, whether we live, or whether we die, we are the Lords. Whether, then, we die or live, it is but just that we belong wholly to Jesus, who has saved us at so great a cost. Oh, who is there that could say, as did the loving martyr St. Ignatius, whose lot it was to give his life for Jesus Christ, ‘Let fire, cross, beasts, and torments of every kind come upon me; let me only have fruition of Thee, O Christ.’ Let flames, crosses, wild beasts, and every kind of torture come upon me, provided only that I obtain and enjoy my Jesus Christ.
Jesus has not, by dying, ceased to love us. He loves us, and seeks us with the self-same love wherewith he first of all came down from heaven to seek us and to die for us. That artifice of love, too, which was manifested by our Redeemer to St. Francis Xavier, while on his travels, is celebrated far and wide. In a storm at sea there came a wave which carried away from him his crucifix. As the saint, after landing, was standing upon the shore, sorrowing, and earnestly longing to recover, if he might, the image of his beloved Lord, behold he saw a crab coming towards him, holding up the crucifix between its claws. Then, going forward to meet it with tears of tenderness and love, he received it, and clasped it to his bosom.
Oh, with what love does Jesus go to that soul that seeks him — The Lord is good . . . to the soul that seeketh Him — to the soul that seeketh Him, however, with true love ! But can they think that they possess this true love who refuse the crosses which the Lord sends them? Christ pleased not Himself? ‘Christ,’ (as Cornelius a Lapide explains this passage) ‘served not His own will and convenience; but all this and his life itself did He expose for our salvation.’ Jesus, for love of us, sought not earthly pleasures; but He sought sufferings and death, all innocent though He was; yet what is there that we are seeking for love of Jesus Christ?
St. Peter the Martyr was one day standing in his prison, complaining of an unjust accusation which had been preferred against him, saying, ‘But, Lord, what have I done that I should have had to suffer this persecution?’ When the crucifix made him this reply, ‘And I, what evil have I done that I should have had to be upon this cross?’
Prayer of St. Bonaventure.
O Jesus ! who, for my sake, hast not pardoned Thyself, de Thou so impress upon me Thy Passion that, wheresoever I turn, I may behold Thy wounds, and find no repose but in Thee and in the contemplation of Thy sufferings. Amen.