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A Meditation On The Incarnation Of Christ, Sermons On The Life And
Passion Of Our Lord And Of Hearing And Speaking Good Words. -Thomas A Kempis

TELL ye the daughter of Sion: behold thy King cometh to thee, meek. Of old God, speaking to the fathers and prophets, sent before many witnesses of His incarnation: and now in almost the same words He proclaims the time of His coming to every faithful soul. “Tell ye,” He saith, “the daughter of Sion,” ye that are spiritual and have the spirit of prophecy; or ye that have read the prophets and know the scriptures: tell ye, I say, the soul awaiting and much desiring My coming; to open the eyes of her faith: and know that I am immediately at hand. For I seek such a soul that longs to see Me: and frequently thinks of Me. Her I bid and bid again to slumber not for weariness: but to awake, arise and await. Let her then also pray and read My letters addressed to her from Heaven: let her look into them often: and until I come refresh herself in them, and comfort herself manfully; nor desist from praying and desiring: for I will surely come and I will not be slack. I lengthened out a truly long period of delay, I willed not to come hastily: but I made go before many and magnificent heralds; often by them I sent word and message in order to arouse desire, and increase the rejoicing over My advent. For when a great monarch approaches any place: he should be received with great eagerness.

“Who therefore eagerly desires Me: he shall the more rejoice in My presence when I come. But who is given over to the world: he cannot desire Me. Who again despises all worldly consolation, and, fleeing from distractions of the heart, recollects himself interiorly, desiring eternal things, rejecting present: he prays to hasten the day of My visitation and the hour of the coming of the Saint of saints, the glorious presence also of the heavenly King, saying, ‘Come, Lord, visit me in peace: that I may joy before Thee with a perfect heart. Come, desire of my heart: light of my eyes and peace. Thou art my hope, the expectation of Israel. In Thee have I hoped, shame me not of my hope: because unto Thee with desire have I lifted up my soul.’ To such a soul desiring thus, and seeking Me from day to day I will speedily appear: and make Myself manifest. For I am the Lord her God: Who have spoken in the prophets. And even till now I speak to all: but nevertheless in a special manner to my faithful friends; and in a very special manner to him who beyond others more eagerly longs for Me: and more reverently desires to receive Me and bring Me into his house. And now I am nigh, saith the Lord; now My time is accomplished: I will not longer delay. I will fulfil the word which I have spoken; I will make good my promise: I will not put off the desire of the soul; what she hath sought shall be, what she hath desired shall come to pass: for I Myself Who speak, behold I am here.” Rejoice and be glad, faithful soul: for the King cometh to thee from Heaven. He is the Lord thy God, thy Creator and Redeemer; long awaited, ardently desired: and now ready to come to thee. “Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold thy King cometh.” Behold the Heaven, whence He cometh forth: behold the world, into which He entereth.

Behold a law of fire in His right hand: in His left riches and glory. Behold round about Him angels and archangels; before Him prophets, near Him apostles: after Him innumerable choirs of saints.

Behold how great is He Who enters: Whom the dominations haste to meet: and all the powers of Heaven serve. Behold He cometh, a compassionate and mild, poor and HUMBLE KING in human nature: Who is to judge the world in justice. BLESSED THE EYES THAT SEE THESE THINGS, and PONDER on the works of the eternal King TO THEIR OWN EDIFICATION; for THEREIN THEY SHALL NOT SEE THE POMP OF THE WORLD: but all humility and meekness shall they find in the coming of so great a King. Blessed all who have eyes of spiritual understanding: and in the light of faith see the light of eternal Truth. This visible world is seen with the eyes of the flesh even by infidels and pagans; but the invisible CREATOR of the world Himself is beheld with the eyes of the mind by ALL the faithful of Christ: WHO LOVE CHRIST FROM THEIR INMOST HEART. For TO BELIEVE in Christ, IS TO BEHOLD HIM WITH THE MIND, and ARDENTLY TO LOVE HIM, IS TO POSSESS HIM. For thus the holy patriarchs and ancient prophets saw him; who foretold His advent long before: and prophesied many things concerning Him.

For the prophets of old were named seers: because Whom others knew not they foresaw: and by their words and writings strove to make known to others who knew not. Thus likewise we also see Christ, who after His incarnation have come to the faith; because all things that we read or hear of Him, we firmly hold in our soul: and confess, praise and proclaim truly foretold by the prophets, and mightily confirmed by the apostles. Blessed therefore the eyes of those who, although they have not seen Christ in the flesh, nevertheless faithfully believe in Him; devoutly venerate, chastely love: and ardently desire to receive Him.

Behold our King comes from Heaven; let us joyously go forth to meet Him: and welcome Him with devout embraces. Let the heavens rejoice, to wit, sublime contemplatives; let the earth exult, to wit, simple ones given to the active life, before the face of the Lord because He cometh: for He comes to save us and to give Himself to us. SHOUT PRAISE, YE MOUNTAINS; and ye learned, distil THE SWEETNESS of the word: and let the hills flow WITH MILK AND HONEY UNTO THE SPIRITUAL COMFORT OF US ALL. Give voice on the trumpet in Sion: let all the torpid be aroused, all the dispersed gathered together into one; let the weak be strengthened, the sad comforted, the sick raised: let all assemble, let each hasten from his place; for a great day in Israel: the holy day of the Lord, the feast day of the eternal King hath arrived. Rejoice, Jerusalem, and make a gathering, all ye faithful that love Jesus Christ, the joy of all that love Him; for He shall not appear in tumult, nor in outward pomp: but in the spirit of gentleness and mildness you shall see Him from within. Let all peoples, tribes and tongues then rejoice and prepare: but do thou, devout soul, daughter of Sion, whose whole aim is fixed upon God, do thou, I say, exult the more. For to thee through the prophet is word sent by the Lord, to thee especially is the message given; thou art called AS A FRIEND BY NAME: that thou mayest hear and see what manner of one is He Who is about to come to thee. Behold thy King, He cometh to thee. Behold thy King: not earthly, not of time, not mortal: but heavenly, eternal, and immortal. Behold He cometh, not to reign in the world; but to save the world: by His blood. Behold thy King, not the king of Romans or Francs: but the King of kings and the Lord of all lords. By Him kings reign in the world: and without Him none shall be crowned in Heaven. He is the King of Heaven: and He cometh not to receive the earth: but to give the kingdom of Heaven. Who is willing to serve Him, him He shall make to reign with Him; and whosoever neglects to obey Him: shall be shut out from His Kingdom. Behold thy King, Whom thou desirest, Whom thou lovest: in Whom thou believest, in Whom thou hopest. He is indeed in general King to all creatures; but to thee in particular by love: as thy own spouse and familiar friend. Thine I say; because for thee He is more fully occupied with care, for thee more watchfully intent; towards thee more lovingly inclined, with thee more closely united: so that thou canst say in truth: “My King and my God.” For from eternity He has loved thee: and now to deliver and save thee, He has come from Heaven from the Royal dwellings. IN WHOM IF THOU WILT GLORY: I KNOW NOT HOW THOU CANST BE SADDENED OR DISCOURAGED. For He is the King and Ruler of all: and what things He hath made with power, He governs with the utmost wisdom: so that deservedly He should be named King and Lord of all: and nevertheless thine by the special favour of His gifts. On Him depend Heaven and earth: and all creation is ruled by His sway. None can resist His power: by His wisdom all things are ordered. His wisdom and power are with Him; and He made all things: and there is no end of His greatness. O how high and immense is He beyond all kings and princes: of Whom the prophet says in the psalm, “But God is our King before ages: He hath wrought salvation in the midst of the earth.” Behold He cometh. He cometh not in gold and silver, nor clothed in purple and fine linen; not in caparisoned horses, nor resplendent arms, not in the blare of the bugle and lute: but in lowliness and poverty, in mildness and charity: that He may be loved rather than feared: that He may draw sinners to Him, not drive them away.

But wherefore did He come? He came for His exceeding charity wherewith He loved us: that He might redeem whom He knew to be lost. He came because of thy need and faultiness: which was exceedingly manifold and great. He came to free thee from sins: and to cleanse by the outpouring of His precious blood. He came to enlighten thy ignorance: and to show the way of truth. He came to aid thy weakness: and to teach endurance in adversity. He came to call away from desire of earthly things: and to raise to love of heavenly. He came to preach virtue: and to put an end to vice. He came to pour in grace: and to make glad with the sweetness of heavenly consolations. HE CAME TO FILL THEE WITH ALL GOOD THINGS: AND TO DELIVER THEE FROM ALL EVILS. He came to bestow on thee everlasting bliss: and to bear the misery of time for thee. He came to give thee all that is His: and above all gifts to offer Himself to thee to be enjoyed for ever.

For that thou mightest eternally rejoice: He Himself came to accept toil and sorrow. That thou mightest be made rich: He came to be made poor. That thou mightest reign: He came to live in exile. He came, the way to the wanderer; truth to the ignorant, life to the dead: light to the blind, the physician to the sick; the comforter to the desolate, the deliverer to the condemned: the counsellor to the seduced, the saviour to the despairing. Behold wherefore He came: and how much He brought thee by His saving coming. He sent not an angel, nor archangel, nor patriarch, nor prophet; but He came Himself, the King of angels, and the Lord of prophets, to deliver thee: for He is the Lord thy God Who made thee. And indeed all the kings and prophets, who were before Him, could not free anyone from the hand of death, nor bring to eternal life; but this King, most powerful and glorious for ever, shall deliver His people from the hand of death: destroy the chains of hell, and lead His elect into paradise.

O if thou wouldst well understand and carefully observe of what and how great majesty is this King of glory: thou wouldst certainly lift up the gates of thy heart most lovingly, and bring in to thee the King of everlasting glory: for with greatest exultation, with immense honour and solemn preparation it is befitting to receive such and so great a King. For if any earthly king had sent word to thee, or one of his princes, “Tomorrow I will come to thee, prepare me a chamber, I wish to make a stay with thee”; what care wouldst thou have, dost thou think, and what wonder thou wouldst express? Behold now the King of Heaven, speaking by the prophet, sends word to thee, “Be prepared to meet thy God, O Israel: for I will come and I will dwell in the midst of thee.” Therefore to receive this guest, adorn the chamber of thy heart; for He desires not only to come to thee, but also to dwell in thee: and as in a bridal chamber sweetly to repose. Happy the soul that merits the coming into herself of this so great a guest: and Him Whom all creation does not fitly hold, SHE WITH LOVING DESIRES DRAWS INTO THE MOST HIDDEN RECESS; that she may the more blissfully rest within: the less she delights in aught without. Happy indeed, to whom deigns to come the most High King of Heaven, the Lord of kings: not to judge or terrify: but lovingly to visit and console her as one well-known and dear to Him. For the gentle King comes to visit and comfort all them that mourn in Sion: to give peace to them that dwell on earth: to put off severe judgement, to exercise mercy: to grant pardon to sinners, to receive the penitent, to deny grace to none: and finally to bestow everlasting glory on all them that await Him unto salvation. Amen.

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