Christmas Novena to the Divine Infant Jesus
By St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787)
THE FIFTH DAY
The Life of sorrow which Jesus lived, even from His birth.
Jesus could have saved us without suffering and without dying. But He willingly chose a life full of tribulations, to show how much He loved us. The prophet Isaias called Him, the man of sorrows (Isaias 53:3) because the life of Christ was to be full of woe. His passion did not begin at the time of His death but, from the beginning of His life.
Imagine Jesus, as soon as He was born, lying in a stable, where everything caused distress for Him. His sight was troubled because he could see nothing in that cave but dark, rough walls. His sense of smell was haunted, by the stench of dung from the animals, lying nearby. His skin was irritated by the itchy straw that served as His bed. Soon after birth, He was forced to ﬂee to Egypt, where He lived several years of His childhood, poor, and despised as a foreigner. The life He led afterward, in Nazareth, was not much better. Then, consider how His life ended in Jerusalem, dying in anguish on a Cross.
So the life of Jesus was one of continual anxiety, even worse than that because he had constantly, before His eyes, all the sadness that would be His on the day of His death.
One day a Nun, complaining before the Cruciﬁx, said to Him, “O Lord, Thou remained on the Cross for three hours but I have suffered my pain for several years.”
Jesus answered her, “What you have said shows how unaware you are. I suffered even from my mother’s womb, all the pains of my life and death.”
But because Jesus voluntarily chose those afﬂictions, they did not hurt Him as much as did the sight of our sins and our ingratitude for His great love.
One particular saint could never stop lamenting over the offences she committed against God. Her Confessor said to her, “Cease crying. God has already forgiven you.” But she replied, “How can I cease crying, when I know that my sins kept Jesus in a state of agony all his life?!”
Affections and Prayers:
O Jesus, my sweet Love!
I too have kept Thee suffering
through all Thy life.
Tell me, then, what I must do
in order to win Thy forgiveness.
I am ready to do all Thou askest of me.
I am sorry, O sovereign Good, f
or all the offences I have committed against Thee.
I love Thee more than myself,
or at least I feel a great desire to love Thee.
Since it is Thou who hast given me this desire,
do Thou also give me the strength to love Thee exceedingly.
It is only right that I,
who have offended Thee so much,
should love Thee very much.
Always remind me of the love
Thou hast borne me,
in order that my soul may ever burn
with love of Thee and long to please Thee alone.
O God of love,
I, who was once a slave of hell,
now give myself all to Thee.
Graciously accept me and bind me to Thee
with the bonds of Thy love.
My Jesus, from this day and forever,
in loving Thee will I live
and in loving Thee will I die.
O Mary, my Mother and my hope,
help me to love Thy dear God and mine.
This is the only favour I ask of thee
and through thee, I hope to receive it.