O Antiphon - 19th December
O Root of Jesse, Who dost stand for an ensign of the people, before Whom kings shall keep silence, and unto Whom the Gentiles shall make their supplication: come to deliver us, and tarry not.
(Isaias 11. 10)
Meditations - Tuesday in the Third Week of Advent: To Imitate the Incarnate Word
Summary of the Morrow’s Meditation
We will meditate tomorrow on our third duty towards the Incarnate Word, which consists in imitating Him, and we shall see: first, that the design of God in decreeing the Incarnation was to give us the Incarnate Word as our model; second, that the excellence of this model invites us to imitate it. We will then make the resolution: first, often to compare the sentiments of Christ with ours, particularly in regard to the love of the cross, of poverty, of pre-eminence; second, to enter within ourselves before every action and every resolution, in order to ask ourselves, What would Jesus Christ do or think? Our spiritual nosegay shall be the words of the Saviour: “I have given you an example that as I have done to you, so you do also” (joh xiii:15).
Meditation for the Morning
Let us adore the Son of God, descended from heaven to earth, not only to redeem us, but also to teach us the Christian life by His example. Before preaching His doctrine He began by practising it (act i:4). He observed His precepts and His counsels before giving them to us, so that we might have no pretext for neglecting them. Let us thank Him for so touching a condescendence, and let us excite ourselves to imitate Him.
The Design of God in Decreeing the Incarnation was to Give us His Incarnate Word to be our Model.
When God in His eternal councils decreed the Incarnation of the Word, He proposed to Himself to place Him before the eyes of men as the model of the new life which was destined to save them. As man, the Incarnate Word would show them the way; as God, He would guarantee to them the perfection of the model. His virtues would be capable of imitation, since they would proceed from a man, and they would be a sure rule, since they would proceed from a God. If, then, says St Bonaventure, the Adorable Word made Himself visible upon earth, if He conversed familiarly with men, if He subjected Himself to the performance of even the most ordinary actions, it was for no other purpose than to give us an example in everything (De Inst. Novit. xxxii 1). I have given you an example, He Himself says, that I may offer to you in My person the rule of your conduct (joh xiii:15). “I am the way and the truth and the life” (joh xiv:6): the way you ought to follow, the truth you ought to hear, the life you ought to live. Lastly, St Paul on his side declares to us that the predestination of the whole of the elect is on condition that they bear in themselves the semblance of Christ (rom viii:29). This is also the reason why St Basil tells us that Christianity is nothing more than the imitation of Jesus Christ (Reg. Fus. Expl. 43); St Gregory of Nyssa, that he alone deserves the name of Christian who shows forth in his life the life of Jesus Christ (On Christian Perfection); St Augustine, that Jesus Christ came upon earth there to be an example of a perfect life; St Laurence Justinian, that the life of Jesus is the true model of perfection, the type of a good life, the teaching of religion, and the expression of all the virtues. Have we, up to the present time, well understood this fundamental truth, and striven to rule our life according to that of Jesus Christ?
The Excellence of the Model set before us in Jesus Christ invites us to Imitate it.
First, it is the most glorious of models: what is there that can be more honourable, more suitable to flatter a noble heart, than to be called upon to imitate a God, as St Paul says? (eph v:1) Second, it is the most unexceptionable of all models: who is there that could find that painful to which a God was the first to submit, whilst promising us His grace to raise our weakness to His height? Third, it is the most amiable of models: for if we strive to resemble the persons we love, if this resemblance causes us to be loved, then the imitation of Jesus Christ is at once an act of love towards Himself and a means of making ourselves to be more and more loved. Fourth, it is the model the most within our reach: His life has not the austerity of that of St John the Baptist, which would have alarmed our weakness; He led a simple and ordinary life; He ate, slept, laboured, like us; He suffered, wept, passed through all our trials, in order to serve us as an example in everything. Do we understand our happiness in having before our eyes so admirable a model? Do we strive to copy it, and to say to ourselves, Is it thus that Jesus Christ would act, would speak, would think? Is this His religion, His charity, His meekness, His modesty, His recollection, His spirit of sacrifice? Behold this is what we ought to say to ourselves every day and at every instant, so to speak.
Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.