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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

O HOW venerable is this place: this is no other but the house of God and the gate of Heaven. Enter, enter, my soul, this poor little domicile of the King: seek hospitality here to-day: here set thy dwelling: abide with Jesus and Mary: and celebrate with them this day’s festival. Do not turn away elsewhere: but stand here to-day: or humbly sit NEAR THE CRIB. It is good for thee to be here: AND MUCH BETTER THAN TO DWELL IN THE GILDED MANSIONS OF KINGS. The dwelling in this little house ought to please thee much, and the society of these three staying here together; for even if the walls offend because of their poverty: the inhabitants nevertheless are exceedingly noble because of their patience and virtue. Here then today thou shalt dwell: here thou shalt abide, here THOU SHALT CONTINUE. But go in further and examine the building of this place more closely: seek and inquire where lies that venerable crib, which holds the Creator of the world: and guards the Child God, the treasure of Heaven, the price of redemption, the joy of angels and men. See how God born man lies bound in a cradle and holds His peace; in what great obscurity and poverty He dwells among strangers: Who with the Father in Heaven is the Giver of all things. Embrace this noble crib with loving arms; and kiss it with repeated kisses: then also humbly cast thyself down at Jesus’ feet. Here worship God: here weep for devotion. Here watch, here pray: here read, here sing. Here chant psalms, here praise: here exult with all thy heart. Tell this Child if thou hast aught sad or burdensome: open out thy desires to Him: and treat of everything with Him. The sweet and lovable Child will teach the meek His ways: and will receive the prayers of the humble. He can heal the sick: make whole the broken of heart, and bind up their wounds: grant pardon to the penitent, and deliver them from all their passions. Give Him thy heart: and beg Him to write thereon His most sweet name. Give Him all that thou hast: and be entirely His from henceforth and for evermore. The eternal and boundless love of Jesus will bring this to pass, that thou abandon thyself: and love Jesus above all things.

See now, my soul, and ponder: what riches are here and glory. I regard not perishable riches, nor joys of the world; but the incarnate Wisdom of God, the child-bearing Virgin: Joseph ministering, and the multitude of angels chanting. Truly the Lord is in this place: and I urge thee by no means depart hence. Where wilt thou find what thou hast here discovered? If thou wert to traverse the whole world, thou wouldst not find such a company: so holy a gathering, so united an assembly. The most holy in heaven and on earth are gathered together here: albeit they are very much neglected by worldlings, and reputed almost as nothing. For in all the world such wonders have not been wrought, nor sights so rare and strange beheld; nor such joyful tidings heard; as in this small shelter, where dwell Joseph and Mary, and the infant Jesus laid in the manger. Here are united God and man, mother and virgin: graybeard and child.

Weigh what means this condescension, such tenderness, such love: such humility, such poverty, such sweetness, such grace: and such overflowing mercy. Turn over all the deeds of old presaging Christ; and see how this day the witnesses of the Scriptures are fulfilled: and THE DEVOUT DESIRES of the holy prophets. Behold also the loving ministrations of the most blessed Virgin Mary; how boundless an exultation is hers with her noble offspring: what a sublime contemplation, to see the Son of God begotten of her, lying before her in the crib. Go over and ponder all in such manner: as if thou wert assisting in person at each. For no less ought to be thy love and devotion in revolving these things which have already taken place: than IF THOU SHOULDST BEHOLD THE SAME THIS DAY ACCOMPLISHED IN THY PRESENCE. Let therefore the holy remembrance abide with thee renewed each year; yea not only once a year shouldst thou be mindful of Jesus, born and laid in the manger: but very often should He have place in thy devotions. Great wisdom is learnt from this Child; great purity and patience: such as should be sufficient to edify thy whole life. Every action of Christ indeed is a lesson to thee: and His every suffering is thy comfort. For He has been made unto thee and all the people, salvation and redemption. He teaches thee rather by His example, than by word: He persuades effectively rather by His own actions; than by the deeds of others. Let therefore the sacred birth of Christ be always fresh to thee: and suffer not so venerable a festivity ever to pass without attentive contemplation. And if outward worship pass away with the season: diligent meditation shall not however pass from the mind. Be not therefore ungrateful to God for this grace, my poor little soul, who hast been so anxiously sought: so compassionately drawn, so lovingly called, so sweetly visited: so fully rejoiced this day. For it is not permitted thee to be sad on the birthday of life: since everywhere it is a day of joy. To thee this day the Infant Jesus is born, to thee a child is given: that with the little thou mayest become little, with the poor poor, with the humble humble, with the patient patient, with the meek sweet and mild. Bow thyself therefore humbly to Him, submit thyself freely: that thus thou mayest merit to exult with Him eternally: Who to gather the little came down from the high dwelling-places of Heaven, Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Gather now in this short space of time: what may serve for thy profit all thy life. How knowest thou whether this may not be thy last festival on earth? And would that thou couldst celebrate it now so devoutly, solemnize it so zealously; that thou mightest conceive a great trust towards Jesus: thereby also at the end of time to merit to pass with Him to the everlasting festival. Doubtless it shall be strictly demanded of thee: how much thou hast conformed thyself to Him in life. While therefore there is still time, and earnest devotion avails, take care that it pass not fruitlessly; but enter into such fellowship with Him: that thou mayest be known among His chosen friends. If it pleased Christ to manifest these things for thy salvation: let it not weary thee intently to meditate thereon. Christ is silent with His mouth: but He speaks in deed. His tongue utters no word: but His tender limbs are eloquent. His lowliness speaks: and His great poverty discourses. The blessed Virgin Mary likewise holds her peace: but the elements are not silent. He lies hid in a manger: but He is made known by an angel. He appears base and abject in the swaddling clothes: but in signs He is proclaimed magnificent. Herod is troubled: but the shepherds seek him. The Scribes and Pharisees disdain: but the three blessed Magi adore Him. Contemplate then in Him not only the great and sublime, but the little also and the lowly; for in each nature He is shown forth the Lord, great and exceedingly to be praised: high above all the angels, and among men the most lowly. Things human are united with the divine, the highest with the lowest; the noble with the base, the glorious with the little: to be venerated together with meet worship by all the faithful. Let not then the swaddling clothes scandalize thee: which preach the humility of the Son of God. Nor let the poor little crib trouble thee: which the King of kings and the Lord of angels hath chosen for Himself. Look not to what is brilliant in the eyes of the flesh: but how great a mystery of salvation is here wrought. LOOK UPON JESUS AND MARY, THE MASTER AND THE MISTRESS OF THE WORLD: that they have no thought for the things of the world. MIGHTY PALACES ARE NOT HERE: BUT HEAVENLY CONSOLATIONS. Here resounds not the clamour of trumpet or lute: but the voices of the heavenly host are heard. Would that thou didst feel thyself to be present in spirit to all this: and couldst not endure to abide elsewhere. The Word of God is now near to thy mouth; if only thou seek with a right heart. For He is found in the lap of His mother: Who before time was in the bosom of the Father. God has become so near to thee, that He can be held as an infant; carried as a babe: for “the Word is made flesh, and has dwelt among us.” Behold Whom all the world cannot contain: He lies as a poor child in a manger. And Who bears all things by the word of His power: He is borne by His mother. Whom the cherubim praise and the seraphim: He is nourished with a little milk. What herein is not wonderful; what not lovable? What more wilt thou have? How could He be nearer and more like to thee? BEHOLD THY BONE AND THY FLESH: THY GOD HAS BECOME THY BROTHER. Who ever saw the like: or who ever heard anything similar? Woe to thee if thou depart from Him: and well is it with thee if thou draw nigh to Him with thy whole heart. Draw near with confidence to the throne of His grace: for although He be poor in material things: in Him nevertheless are hid all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. Make ready then clean lips to kiss; wash thy eyes with tears to see: cleanse thy hands to touch; open thy arms to embrace: humbly bend thy knees to worship. O if thou hadst now a clean cradle, beautifully adorned on all sides with gold and gems: that thou mightest place the God born child therein. But there is no casket so meet and worthy to receive the God babe; as thy own heart purified from all sin. For He DOES NOT SEEK EXTERNAL ORNAMENT: BUT THAT WHICH IS MYSTICALLY SYMBOLIZED BY EXTERIOR ORNAMENT, THIS IS VERY DEAR AND PLEASING TO HIM. But how shalt thou be fit worthily to receive Him? Thou art black and ugly: and He exceedingly beautiful and comely. What wilt thou do? It is not well to retire from His presence: and it is not becoming to approach with unwashed countenance. How shalt thou be made clean, entangled as thou art in many vices? But be not too fearful: nor despair of thy wounds. Be displeased that thou art such: weep over the stains of thy faults, wash away with inward sorrow the guiltiness of thy conscience; and seek of Him the oil of mercy, the free granting of a full remission: and the restoring of fresh grace. Thou shalt not be without hope: although stained exceedingly. This Child can cleanse the unclean, make white the black, appease the tempestuous, sweeten the bitter: lighten the burdensome, and root out all that is vicious: speedily bring joy and peace of heart. He is such that He cannot be defiled: and by His touch diseases are healed, and the weak strengthened. Now therefore prepare for Him from within a beautiful crib; in which to place Jesus, the Son of God.

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