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He Came to Call Sinners


In the hour of our agony, in that hour of truth . . .

SacredHeartWhen, at the moment of our appearance before God, we perhaps review in our memory our whole life, with so many miseries and weaknesses, so many failings and falls, I hope that with contrite hearts but immense confidence we shall say to Jesus, "All this I give you.  Did you not come to earth to seek out my sins and take them upon yourself?  In exchange, give me the price of your blood, the treasures of your redemption, all your merits; they are mine."  It is in this spirit that little Saint Thérèse said, "In the evening of this life I shall appear before you with empty hands," and "It is just this — to find myself at my death with empty hands — that gives me joy, for having nothing I shall receive everything from God."  What depth, what logic, what refinement of love there is in these words!  All our spiritual wealth, all our supernatural goods, all our life of holiness, all are Jesus and nothing but Jesus.  He is ours, his merits are ours, the price of his blood is ours, he is completely ours.  He delivered himself to us without reservation.

After Gethsemane came the horrible scourging, the crowning with thorns, Calvary.  He looked with merciful love at those who had wounded his hands and his feet because those wounds were to be the doors to heaven, even for those who had made them.  And he said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.  As if that were not enough, he invented the Eucharist: a God who makes himself into bread, a little host, in order to descend onto our lips and into our hearts, to bridge all distance between himself and us. . . . Yes, truly, he loved us immensely.  He loved us with an incomprehensible love which surpasses all words on earth.  He loved us to the utmost limit.  Saint John finds only these words for it: He loved them to the end (Jn 13:1).

What I have just told you, you know by heart.  It is the Gospel, nothing else.  You have learned it since your childhood.  You have grown up deepening your understanding of these mysteries.  But we do not read the Gospel enough in the light of the love of Christ.  Meditate on the love of Jesus in his Gospel, on the love of Jesus in his own life.  Then meditate on the love of Jesus in your own life.  This is a meditation which you will not find in books.  It is meditation you will discover in the book of your life.



Father Jean du Coeur de Jésus d’Elbée. "He Came to Call Sinners" excerpt from I Believe in Love: Retreat Conferences on the Interior Life, (Petersham, MA: St. Bede's Publications / Sophia Institute Press, 1974).

Reprinted with permission from Sophia Institute Press. This excerpt appeared in Magnificat. Image credit: Sacred Heart of Jesus by an unknown artist, 19th century, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Author

elbeeFather Jean C. J. d'Elbée, a French priest deeply imbued with St. Thérèse's spirit, brings you St. Thérèse's teachings on God's love and the confidence in Him that it should inspire in your soul; humility, peace, and fraternal charity; the apostolate; the Cross; and what it means truly to abandon yourself to Divine Providence. He is the author of I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux

Copyright © 1974 Sophia Institute Press
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