With His first breath, He inhaled the reek of animal sweat and excrement.
And what about the shepherds who came to see Him after the angels had announced the birth of Christ to them ‘in fields where they lay’? Outdoors tending their flock for days, they arrived at the manger rife with body odor.
But Mary and Joseph greeted them all civilly, and Baby Jesus smiled at them.
For the Holy Family could see the pure hearts and intentions of their visitors: the shepherds had a lowly opinion of themselves, which is why they received the glorious message of the Holy Birth from the angels.
When Jesus tells us "blessed are the meek” (Matthew 5:5) he doesn’t mean "blessed are the human doormats," as many think. Being meek means not elevating oneself above others in thought, word or deed.
It means being little in our own eyes, an extremely unfashionable and uncomfortable situation. And being considered insignificant in the opinion of others is positively unbearable!
But consider the following entry by St. Faustina in her diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul:
“Lord, … Your anger vanishes before lowly souls. Although You are great, Lord, you allow yourself to be overcome by a lowly and deeply humble soul. O humility, the most precious of virtues, how few souls possess you!” 1436 (My italics.)
Let’s take ourselves back to the birth of the Messiah into that smelly, undignified environment. Didn’t He truly set us the example of littleness?
And He rewards our humility:
“I know that He will guard me, even jealously, but only as long as I remain little, because it is with such that the great Lord likes to commune. As to proud souls, He watches them from afar and opposes them.” 1440
Defining ourselves as ‘wretched souls’ doesn’t sit well in today’s world of ‘it’s all about me’ and ‘I deserve it,’ as we’re assured by advertisements for everything under the sun.
The truth is, we deserve nothing at all.
A sad number of people are going to find that out when they die, if they don’t get a grip NOW on how small we all are. The truth is, as St. Faustina says, “by our own power we cannot ascend to You.”
It’s not fun to dwell on how miserable we are, but here’s the Good News: God is waiting and longing for us to turn to Him.
He asked St. Faustina to:
“Write, speak of My Mercy. Tell souls where they are to look for solace: that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy (the Sacrament of Reconciliation). There the greatest miracles take place (and) are incessantly repeated. To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony; it suffices to come with faith to the feet of My representative (the priest) and to reveal to him one’s misery, and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no (hope of) restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle pf Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy! You will call out in vain, but it will be too late.” 1448
God has this message for all those who are ‘too smart’ to believe in Him:
“Tell sinners that no one shall escape My Hand; if they run away from My Merciful Heart, they will fall into My Just Hands.” 1728
St. Faustina writes:
“Only that soul who wants it will be damned, for God condemns no one.” 1452
The truly smart course is to ask God for His mercy before it’s too late.
The Year of Mercy
Pope Francis has declared a Year of Mercy, beginning today, 8th December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Mother of God.
He wants the news of God’s mercy spread to all those who doubt in it. He wants everyone to know that God is waiting for us to come to Him so that he can lavish his mercy and graces upon all of us. God our Father so wants all of us to be saved!
“I am Mercy Itself for the contrite soul. A soul’s greatest wretchedness does not kindle Me with wrath; but rather, My Heart is moved toward it with great mercy.” 1739
God has given us free will. Let us use that gift wisely!
To St. Faustina Jesus said:
“Write: I am Thrice Holy, and I detest the smallest sin. I cannot love a soul which is stained with sin; but when it repents, there is no limit to My generosity toward it. My Mercy embraces and justifies it. With My Mercy, I pursue sinners along all their paths, and My Heart rejoices when they return to Me. I forget the bitterness with which they fed My Heart and rejoice at their return.” 1728 (My italics.)
We are so blessed in our Catholic faith to have the Sacrament of Confession. It is our constant opportunity to repent and turn away from sin.
This is a hard road, but, as St. Faustina wrote:
“I must struggle with many faults, knowing well that it is not the struggle which debases one, but cowardice and failure.” 1340
When we fall, we must get up again, and continue the struggle for holiness.
Let’s go to Confession, repent of our sins and turn back to God with renewed faith and fervor.
If you’ve been away from Confession for a long time and are terrified at the idea of going, take heart in these words from St. Faustina:
“O God of compassion, You alone can justify me, and You will never reject me when I, contrite, approach your Merciful Heart, where no one has ever been refused, even if he were the greatest sinner.” 1730
And with hearts of faith we then unite ourselves to Christ in Holy Communion, which He so longs for!
“Oh, how painful it is to Me that souls so seldom unite themselves to Me in Holy Communion. I wait for souls, and they are indifferent toward Me. I love them tenderly and sincerely, and they distrust Me. I want to lavish My graces on them, and they do not want to accept them. They treat me as a dead object, whereas My Heart is full of love and mercy. In order that you may know at least some of My pain, imagine the most tender of mothers who has great love for her children, while those children spurn her love. Consider her pain. No one is in a position to console her. This is but a feeble image and likeness of My love.” 1447
So today let’s honor the Mother of Jesus on her feast day, and console Our Lord this Advent by being a breath of fresh air to Him who was born amid the rank smells of the manger.