The Mystery of the Circumcision
He has come to do God’s will; before him lies the eternal purpose. From his royal throne he descends, made obedient to the law for man, and as the first act of obedience he gives his sacred body to the knife. He who will give his life-blood on the Cross, and with it fill the chalice of the Church’s sacrament through the ages, must now in infancy shed the first drops of that most precious blood. This alone might have sufficed for atonement, for that obedience of the perfect human nature is itself the great and perfect propitiation by which God and man are reconciled. Love demands not least but most; therefore the great task of those called to love our Lord according to the love wherewith he loves us, is to seek to walk by his own Spirit which he has shed abroad in our hearts and wills, that we may be conformed to him, not only in a resemblance that will suffice for our ultimate acceptance, but which will make us like him, and in spirit one with him: fired with the same desire of love, quickened by the same energy of charity and devotion, uplifted with the same sense of high vocation, according to our opportunity to fulfil our part in the work that he has done.
Love is a fire that burns in the heart and inspires to high desires and high enterprises, counting no cost, hindered by no obstacles, which presses on to the fullness of the Spirit of Jesus, to entire conformity, not only with the beauty, but with the meekness, the courage, the adoration of Christ. The name fore-ordained in the counsel of divine eternal love is given in pain. He who is obedience must learn obedience by the things which he suffers. That is one of the supreme paradoxes of the life of the incarnate Son. So we too must learn. Obedience is real, intense, sanctifying, an opportunity for further advance in holiness, precisely in so far as it means victory gained, a discipline of suffering through which we pass to victory.
The Christian life, the spiritual life and most of all the life of the contemplative, is a life that is established, verified, and matured through pain. So in the service of that name we are enrolled, and our heritage thereby, like his, becomes ipso facto a span of suffering and an ageless glory when victory is gained. You will do well to reflect on your life as it needs to be worked out not in ease but in suffering as the condition of your progress and your victory.
Ye have not yet resisted unto blood. Life has its martyrdoms which are not sealed by the shedding of blood or violent death but by that which may be even more costly, a life of ceaseless devotion to the highest inspiration and to this most perfect love of the Spirit of God, which draws the soul that is called into intimate conformity with the whole life and spirit of the Lord Jesus, and makes that soul a partaker of his great enterprise, one who fills up what is behind of the afflictions of Christ for his body’s sake, which is the Church.