Meditations given by the Rev, Bede Jarrett, O.P., during the Novena preached in the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in preparation for the celebration of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Apparitions at Lourdes, February 2nd - February 10th, 1933
VI. Most Gracious Advocate!
IT might seem strange, my dear brethren, at first, that we should speak of our Blessed Lady as our advocate, someone who champions our cause, someone who will defend us at the judgment seat of God. It might seem strange because, after all, even God’s Blessed Mother cannot love us as God loves us, God, who being infinite, has for us infinite love. God loves us. That is almost the first principle of our religion, almost the first point of doctrine that our Lord came to teach. His first revelation was the fatherhood of God. Thus in the sermon on the mount God’s care for us individually was the very basis of the new spirit that our Lord came to reveal. Certainly by the Old Testament as well as by the New Testament, we are assured over and over again of God’s love for mankind.
Indeed, there is something almost gracious in the very way in which the creation of man himself is described to us. God had completed the other works of creation and then He paused and took counsel, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, and spoke in a new way of compassion: "Let us make man after our own image and likeness.” Is there not a certain graciousness in the wording of that story, of mankind being made after God’s image and likeness? Because of it God cannot help but love man always, everywhere. God cannot hold off His love from His likeness. His love is infinite and eternal. Having loved His own. He must love them to the end. Thus through the whole story of God’s dealings with man, we find God visiting mankind. So much was He in love with man that long before the Incarnation, He would visit mankind under one form or another. He would speak with man. He spoke, so Scripture tells us, with Moses as a friend speaks with a friend. He visited mankind as a man, as a light, a cloud, a voice. And then the Incarnation, in contrast to those passing visits of God with man St. John tells us that He became flesh and dwelt amongst us. He is pursuing man with His love. Formerly He paid merely a few scanty visits. Now He dwells amongst us, a long sojourn, dwells until at last the earth breaks and the end of all shall come. All through His life on earth we have again the same idea of God’s love for man made manifest. The very life of our Blessed Lord, His miracles, His sermons, and again, the Agony, the Passion, the Death, the Resurrection, the Eucharist, the Church, what are all these but so many manifestations of God’s love for man?
Now despite all this mercy it is true that one day man will come to be judged by God. True, that all judgment is given to the Son, that our Blessed Lord, who came on earth and walked on earth, who knew man, for He made him, is to judge mankind individually and last of all, mankind in the mass, the great pageant of man. But, though He is our Judge, He will not cease to be merciful. Mercy is above all His works. Yet, as we read the sacred Scriptures, or hear them read to us in Advent, it seems as though awfulness is the note of the world’s end, when the stars are to fall from heaven and the moon stumble in her flight; when men will be withering away for fear of what is to come on them; when the waves will raise themselves and break over the land. Yet in that description of the awfulness of the last Judgment, our Lord suddenly says, “When you see the fig tree and notice the tips of its branches softening, you know that summer is nigh; so when this awful judgment shall come on the world, look up, lift up your heads for your redemption is nearer than you believed.” Here is the description of the awful majesty of God, our judge — and yet our Blessed Lord when He describes it cannot leave us, in His infinite mercy, with that mere sense of fear. He bids us see in it summer, bids us know that summer is nigh. The fragrance of summer, its glory, splendor, color, warmth and sunshine: awfulness, but summer is nigh. Our redemption is at hand. Everywhere, Our Lord, even as the Judge of mankind, shows Himself to us as full of love and mercy. His power is shrouded in tenderness; His threats are full of hope.