However incredible may appear the love which the Son of God shows us in the Adorable Eucharist, there is something else yet more surprising. It is the ingratitude with which we repay so great a love. It is marvelous, indeed, that Jesus Christ should take delight in loving man. But it is most unaccountable that man should not love Jesus Christ, and that no motive, no benefit, no excess of love can inspire him with the least feeling of gratitude. Jesus Christ may perhaps have some reason for loving men. They are His work. In them He loves His own gifts. In loving them He loves Himself.
But can we have any reason for not loving Jesus Christ, for loving Him only in a small degree, for loving anything together with Him? Is there anything, then, in Him,that keeps you from Him? Has He not yet done sufficient to merit our love? Should we ever have dared to desire, or ever have been able to imagine, all that He has deigned to do, in this adorable mystery, in order to gain our hearts? And yet all this has not been enough to oblige men to have an ardent love for Jesus Christ.
What advantage has Jesus Christ derived from so wonderful an abasement? It might in some sense be said that all the other mysteries, the effects of His love, have been accompanied by circumstances so glorious, and prodigies so striking, as to show clearly, that in taking care of our interests He did not entirely overlook His own glory. But in this most amiable Sacrament, it seems as if Jesus Christ had altogether forgotten all these advantages, and that it was His love alone that engaged Him therein.
Ought not, then, so wonderful an excess of love to excite an excessive love in the hearts of all men. Alas! it is quite the contrary. It seems as though Jesus Christ would have been more loved had He loved us less. I shudder with horror, oh my God! at the mere thought of the indignities and outrages which the impiety of wicked Christians, and the fury of heretics, have committed against this august Sacrament. With what horrible sacrileges have not our Altars and our Churches been profaned? With what repeated insults, impiety and infamy, has not the Body of Jesus Christ been treated? Can any Christian reflect on such impiety, without conceiving an ardent desire to repair by 'every possible means' these cruel outrages? Is it possible, then, that he should live without giving it a thought?
If, amidst the impiety which Jesus Christ meets with at the hands of heretics, He at least were honored and ardently loved by the faithful, we might in some degree console ourselves for the outrages of the one, by the love and sincere homage of the other. But alas! Where are we to look for that crowd of adorers, earnestly bent on honoring Jesus Christ in our Churches? Are not our Churches deserted? Can there be greater coldness and indifference than what is shown towards Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament? The scant number that are to be seen in our Churches during the greater part of the day, are they not a visible proof of the forgetfulness and want of love of almost all Christians? Those who approach our Altars most frequently, familiarize themselves with these most august mysteries. It may be said, that there are Priests, whose familiarity to Jesus Christ goes so far as to grow into indifference and contempt. How many amongst them are there, who, by offering Him daily, increase in love for Him? How many who celebrate these divine mysteries, act like persons who truly believe in them?
We perhaps think that Jesus Christ is insensible to such bad treatment. But can we ourselves think on the treatment which He receives, and be insensible, and not seek to make reparation by every means in our power? How can anyone reflect a little on these truths, and not dedicate himself wholly to the love of this Man-God, who alone has a right to the hearts of all. If we do not love Him, it must either be that we do not know Him, or that we are worse than that wicked demon spoken of in the life of St. Catherine of Genoa, who did not complain of the flames that consumed him, nor of the other pains which he endured, but only of being devoid of love, - of that love which so many souls know nothing of, or refuse to exercise, to their eternal loss.
And, for all this, what sentiments of gratitude does He find in the hearts of men? What solicitude? What love? He loves, and He is not loved. We do not even know His love, because we do not condescend to receive the gifts by which He would show it to us, nor listen to the tender and secret declarations that He would make of it to our hearts. Is not this a motive powerful enough to touch the hearts of all who are at all reasonable, and who have some little tenderness for Jesus Christ?
Our loving Savior, in instituting this Sacrament of love, foresaw clearly all the ingratitude of mankind. He felt by anticipation in His Sacred Heart, all the grief which it was to cause Him. Yet all this could not keep Him at a distance, nor prevent Him from showing us the excess of His love, in the institution of this adorable mystery.
Is it not just, amidst so much incredulity and coldness, so many profanations and outrages, that this God of love should find at least some friends of His Sacred Heart, who should be pained by the little love felt for Him, feel the injuries offered Him, be faithful and assiduous in adoring Him in the Holy Eucharist, and neglect nothing in order to repair, by their love, by their adorations, and by every kind of homage, all the outrages to which the excess of His love daily exposes Him, in this august Sacrament?
(From Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Father John Croiset, S.J.)
(Sacred Heart Image source: Sacred Heart Church, Lancaster, Ca)