The Pearl of Great Price

Carnazzo, Rev. Hezekias

As the world around us busies itself with dismantling all evidence of the recent Feast, we who have basked in the glory of the dawn of the Sun of Justice remain at the side of the sacred crib.  And just as a newly espoused woman gazes upon the jewel which betokens the love of her lover, we who have found the pearl of great price, do not turn our eyes from the one who has come to save our souls.  Therefore, in the midst of this great festal season, as we wonder at the mystery that has been born in our midst, let us listen to the words of Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Father and Doctor of the Church, and seek in them the glory of our Divine Savior.

How gentle art thou, dear Babe!  How mighty is the omnipotent and irresistible power of thy judgment!  How sweet and amiable is thy love!  Who can withstand thee?

Thy Father dwells in the high heavens; thy Mother stands on the lowly earth; who can understand thee?  If the earthly man investigate thy nature, which surpasses the ken of mortals, it is found in the highest heavens, hid in the vast bosom of the divinity.

If, again, one wish to see thy Body made visible to the eye of man, lo! it lies upon the earth: it has issued from the narrow womb of Mary, and all may see it.  The soul knows not what to think, and the mind grows bewildered in the calculation of thy ways, O Jesus, rich Lord and God!

Thy divinity is shut beneath a twofold barrier; yet art thou, and I confess it, an immeasurable ocean to him who attempts to fathom thee, even now that thou hast humbled thy greatness to our littleness.  When we seek for a sight of thee, we see thee a Man, having hoped to see thee as the great God; and when we wish to look upon thee as Man, then straightaway is our eye struck and dazzled by the bright splendor of thy Divinity.
And who would think thee to be the Heir of David’s throne?  Instead of costly furniture, thou hast but a crib; instead of the regal palaces, thou hast but a cave; instead of the richly caparisoned steeds, there stands near thee one poor ass.

Yet, dear Babe, how lovely art thou! Accessible to all, and meeting with thy smile all who come to thee!  Thy love is verily the love of one who longeth after men, as a hungry man that longeth after bread.

Thou welcomest to thee, with a like affection, strangers and thy kindred, women and thy Mother, impure prostitutes, and the Virgin that feeds thee at her breast.  And how is this?  Is it the sweet condescension of thy heart, or is it the love wherewith thou lovest all things thou hast made, that has brought thee to this excess of affection?

What is it that induces thee to stoop thus towards all, rich and poor, and run even to them that ask thee not to come?  Whence hast thou this inclination to love us men so much?
What charity is this, that if a man insults thee, thou art not indignant?  Or if he threaten thee, thou fearest not to go to him?  Or if he treat thee with cruelty, there is not a wrinkle on thy brow?  Ah! thy charity is of another sort from theirs, who persecute them that do them wrong and who seek revenge upon their enemies!

Teach us, O’ Lord, the humility with which you are humble!  Teach us, O’Lord the love with which thou lovest!  Teach us, O’Lord to see rightly and to perceive in You the glory of the Eternal God.

Posted by Deacon Sabatino

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