JESUS BEAUTIFUL I HIS AVERSIOS.

BY SISTER TERESA GERTRUDE
You an from beneath, I am from above. You are of this world, I am
not of this world (St. John viii. 23).
So associated in our minds is the idea of aversion with
the taint of human passion and prejudice, that it might
at first sight appear both incongruous and unbecoming
to suppose our Lord in any way capable of manifesting
it. And yet a little reflection will prove to us that not
only in human nature the most perfect, but also in the
Divine ature itself, by reason of their very perfection,
certain aversions do and ought to exist. Thus the infi
nite purity of God renders it necessary that He should
abhor even the least shadow of sin. ow, amongst the
various kinds of sin there are some that cannot fail to
be the peculiar objects of His aversion, because, in
their spirit of hatred against God, they all the more
directly and maliciously assail His Divine Majesty.
Our frequent mistake lies in not distinguishing between
sin and the sinner. But God 5 Who cannot avoid having
an inherent aversion for sin, is still the " God Who
loveth souls," inasmuch as He hateth none of the
things which He hath made; and sin He has not
made. 1
As then, by the predilections manifested in His
1 Wisdom xi. 25, 27.
278 JESUS BEAUTIFUL
Sacred Humanity our Lord revealed to us, at one and
the same time, the true character of His Father, and
the beauty of His own human Soul, so by the aver
sions which He entertained did He make to us a
similar revelation, no less pregnant with instruction ,
warning, and gentle admonition. The words addressed
by our Lord to the Jews, which are prefixed to the head
of this chapter, will explain to us the nature and the
cause of our Lord s aversions, and they will likewise
illustrate the beauty of the Soul wherein they were
formed. Jesus had been occupied in justifying His
doctrine, and asserting His oneness with the Father.
The Jews hardened their hearts against Him, wherefore
He told them they should die in their sins because of
their unbelief, adding that whither He was about to go
they could not follow. After this He went on to explain
to them the source of all the evils which should befall
them: " You are from beneath," He said, " I am from
above. You are of this world, I am not of this world."
Herein lies the whole root of the particular aversion
our Divine Lord felt for the sin of the rulers and
Pharisees. He told them elsewhere that they were
of their father, the devil, whose desires they fulfilled,
and who was a liar ; hence the words of truth they
would not hear, because they were not of God. 1 What
alliance, then, what union of sentiment, could exist
between truth and falsehood, between God and Belial,
between light and darkness ?
But, it may be asked, what could there be in
common between our Divine Lord and any sinner, since
all sin is only falsehood and darkness and impurity, in
seme kind and degree or other ? True, we reply, but
in those whom our Lord now addressed there was,
1 St. John viii. 44 47.
I HIS AVERSIOS. 279-
besides, hatred of the truth and a deliberate determina
tion to resist it, for " they sought their glory one from
another, while the glory which is from God alone they
did not seek." 1 Such, is our Lord s own explanation
of the gulf that lay between Him and these self-
seekers. How could He, Who received no glory from
men, have anything in common with those worldlings,
whose ignoble aspirations could never rise above some
material advantage which they coveted ? They formed
the type of our modern politicians in private life of
men and women who are swayed by motives of policy
in their ordinary dealings and relations with others,
whose words and actions are guided by principles of
self-interest, who restrain the expression of approval
or blame where really due, in proportion as such
expressions are likely to advance or retard their own
promotion to power. Those to whom our Lord spoke
the severe words quoted above were types, once more,
of modern place-hunters in the world and in the sanc
tuary men who with obstinate infatuation barter their
soul s freedom, the best instincts of their conscience,
and, should the bitter end be reached, the hope of an
eternal Kingdom, for a coveted place, for a paltry favour
from those in power, for popularity with a party men,
in a word, who seek " their glory from one another, and
not the glory which is from God alone." With such as
these our Lord could have no sentiment in common.
Their deliberate self-seeking, their gross preference of
Caesar to God, struck at the very root of any possible
alliance between Himself and them.
Other souls there were guilty indeed of sins more
visible to the world s eye, and more shocking to its
sense of propriety, who yet did not awaken in our
1 St. John v. 44.
280 JESUS BEAUTIFUL
Lord the aversion of which we have spoken. These
men were sinners because, perhaps, from childhood
they had lived in the very atmosphere of sin, and had
never been brought into contact with any sanctifying
influence. They could only dimly discern between good
and evil, and had never recognized the malice of sin,
even if they had given their thoughts to the question at
all. For such as these our Lord bore, as we know, only
the tenderest compassion. In them was, beyond doubt,
much that grievously offended His infinite purity, but
there was not found in their benighted souls that
distinctive " sin of the world," a cold-blooded, unbe
lieving, and unchanging policy, which makes everything
subservient to selfish, material interests, excluding all
thought of, or care for, God s honour and glory. It was
this "sin of the world," spoken of by St. John, that
our Lord came to take away ; it imports us therefore to
ascertain clearly in what this sin consists. 1 Its chief
malice lies in the fact of its being a deliberate turning
away of the heart from God to the creature, and to
self, which it prefers to Him ; and in proportion as this
turning away of the soul from the legitimate object of
its allegiance is persevered in, with design and determi
nation, so is it abhorrent to the Divine Being Who
41 made all things for His glory." ow, Jesus came to
turn back the hearts of men to His Father, and to take
away the sin of the world ; but where He found them
hardened in their egotism, firmly resolved to resist the
truth rather than relinquish one human idol, pandering
to the weaknesses and passions of each other for the
sake of power and the glory they received from one
another, there His truth, His equity, His love of the
Father in brief, all the grandeurs of His Soul, caused
1 St. John i. 29.
I HIS AVERSIOS. 281
in Him that aversion which others, stained with foulest
sins, did not evoke. It is this that He testifies by the
language which He employed, and by His whole manner
of dealing with the several classes we have described.
Let it, however, never be forgotten that our Lord
manifested a special aversion for the class of sin con
spicuous in the Scribes and Pharisees, and the rulers of
the people ; yet even for them His Heart yearned unto
the end with a yearning rendered all the more poignant
by the severity of the language which He used, and the
judgments He pronounced against them. We are some
times almost startled at the sternness of the epithets
which He applied to them, He Whose character was
so gentle, He Whom we are justly wont to regard as so
refined and so sensitive. Yet after all, His aversions,
as well as the language and manner in which He
clothed them, were but the reproduction of those which
God had pronounced of old by the mouth of His holy
Prophets, and we know full well that the " abomina
tion " which the idolatry of His faithless people was to
Him, owed its origin to the excess of His outraged
love. ot the less do we desire to keep very clearly
before our mind the evidence that we have of our
Lord s special aversion for the petty ambition, the
shifting policy, the jealousy, the thirst after Caesar s
favour, and the high price set on the possession of
the mammon of this world, which formed the besetting
sins of those whom He denounces as "hypocrites," as
" whited sepulchres," fair in appearance to the outward
view of men, " but within full of dead men s bones
and all filthiness," as "serpents, a generation of vipers,"
" blind guides, who strain at a gnat and swallow a
camel." 1 Such language as this was not usual with
i St. Matt, xxiii. 2328.
282 JESUS BEAUTIFUL
our Lord, nay rather, it was strange to Him, and there
fore denoted an extraordinary abhorrence of the serious
blots and blemishes of character which called it forth.
The qualities He denounced stood out in marked
contrast to that truthfulness which sought but His
Father s glory, and illuminated His Soul with so pure
and transparent a beauty, and to that simplicity in Him
which held in such deep, unforgiving abhorrence, any
shadow of falsehood and duplicity. Other souls, though
deeply dyed in sin, never had such words addressed to
them as those we have just quoted. Our Lord turned
in mercy towards men from whom the Pharisees in
their proud self-righteousness shrank with contempt.
To them He never would have applied the reproach
ful term " fox," which He gave to that petty Prince
Herod, styled King of Judea, whom a craven fear of
the Roman Emperor made so despicable a sycophant.
Jesus, of deliberate purpose and design, chose for him
a title that should best express His antipathy against
the sinister schemes into which his self-interested
policy led the man. 1 As jealousy is a vice peculiarly
opposed to all nobility or elevation of soul, it could not
be otherwise than an object of special aversion to the
Soul of our Divine Lord. We find Him therefore
pursuing it with His hatred, not merely in the vilest
and most repulsive form which it assumed among the
class of persons above referred to, but even in those
milder aspects under which it presented itself amongst
His own disciples. This outspoken aversion will enable
us to draw the more clearly a due distinction between
the sinner and his sin, between imperfection in itself
and the soul wherein it resides ; for certain it is that,,
if our Lord had detected in any one of His most
1 St. Luke xiii. 32.
I HIS AVERSIOS. 283
favoured and holy servants the slightest trace of the
foul leprosy of jealousy, of petty ambition, or any of
those vices which we know to have been the objects of
His special aversion, He would assuredly have pursued
it most ruthlessly, and would never have assuaged His
purging fire until every smallest vestige of it had been
burned away.
Again, intemperate zeal, amounting in some souls
to a positive vice, although in others it may be no more
than an imperfection, was marked out by our Lord for
express condemnation. It excited His anger for two
reasons. In the first place, this kind of zeal was utterly
opposed to His own long-suffering gentleness and
mercy, which He designed to make leading charac
teristics of His holy spouse the Church, and stamped
them as His own special seal and mark upon her
theology. In the next place, His keen eye had pene
trated into the secret springs that set such false and
intemperate zeal in motion, and knew them to be inju
rious and unhealthy in principle. Thus the zeal of the
Pharisees, of the scribes and rulers, drew its inspira
tion from the basest passions, from envy, jealousy,
and ambition, in almost every instance in which it
was directed against Himself. If they attacked His
disciples, it was at Him that they secretly aimed. If
they accused Him of breaches of the Law, and of
transgressing the traditions of the ancients, they only
endeavoured, by this means, to bring Him into disre
pute with the people, and so destroy the influence
which they held in such jealousy and fear. When they
called Him the friend of sinners, or murmured at His
answers in their defence, they still had the same
unworthy object in view, although their spiritual pride
in esteeming themselves just and despising others,
JESUS BEAUTIFUL
added fresh fuel to their zeal, and intensified its
passionate heat.
There were, however, others whose zeal, untempered
by the true Spirit of Love, elicited the condemnation
of our Lord in terms which showed how distasteful it
was to Him. Such were the disciples in whom He
perceived traces of Jewish severity in their judgment
upon sinners, and at once reproved them for it, both
in His words and actions. When they, for instance,
besought Him to send away the Syro-Phenician
woman, "for she crieth after us," although our Lord
delayed for a moment, in order to try her perseverance,
and seemed about to yield, yet in the end, far from
doing this, He granted her petition, and actually broke
forth into admiration of her faith. So again when, as
we have recently considered, the disciples wished to
call down fire from heaven to destroy those who would
not receive Him, He by the sharpness of His rebuke
clearly testified how greatly such hasty zeal displeased
Him. Or when He observed a somewhat similar spirit
amongst the disciples in regard of one another, marking
the indignation of the ten that James and John should
have asked for the first places in His Kingdom, Jesus
availed Himself of the opportunity for instructing
them in the principles upon which that Kingdom was
to be founded. He made it clear to them that the
false and selfish zeal of the children of the world,
which leads them to lord it over each other, should
find no place amongst them, whose zeal must ever
bear the impress of the sweetness of His own loving
Heart. St. Peter, above the rest, frequently exposed
himself to His Master s stern rebuke through his
impetuous zeal. Although we must not confuse his
impulsive ardour with the unloving zealousness of the
I HIS AVERSIOS. 285,
Pharisees, yet it was meet that he, who was to be the
first visible Head of the Church that should spring
forth from the loving Saviour s Heart and Side, he
who was to be the common Father of all the faithful,
he in whose hands were to be placed the keys of the
Kingdom of love, should be made to recognize well
the gulf that lies between the fiery justice of bigoted
zealots, owning no principle of mercy, and that holy
zeal, on the other side, which, though firm and staunch
in its loyalty to the cause of God and of His truth,
is not the less pervaded through and through with
the tender compassion of Jesus. It was therefore a
merciful thought of our Blessed Lord to manifest so
clearly His aversions as well as His predilections, that
all generations might learn of Him what to love and
what legitimately to hate. Whilst such knowledge is a
revelation of His interior loveliness, it discloses, at the
same time, the treasures in Him of that loving-kindness
towards the whole race of man whereon we should
build our own confidence in Him and imitation of His
example.
In addition to what has been said, we have only to
study the connection between a man s actions and the
character of his soul to understand how the perfection
of the Soul of our Lord was, in itself, the cause of
those aversions or dissatisfactions, which we are con
sidering in the present chapter. Experience must have
shown us that, in proportion as certain virtues or
dispositions exist in the soul of a man, will be his
sensitiveness to the opposite vices. Thus, one endowed
with a remarkable gift of truthfulness in the unswerv
ing singleness of his purpose, impatient of anything
approaching to dissimulation with his fellow-men, in
however slight a degree, such a man will be painfully
286 JESUS BEAUTIFUL
alive to the opposite qualities whenever they are forced
upon his notice, and will feel himself utterly incapable
of forming a genuine friendship with any one in whom
they exist. The like happens in the case of those
persons whose characters have received the stamp of
some high quality in no ordinary degree, for their
extreme sensitiveness on many points is equally
unknown and unintelligible to others not so favoured.
With our Blessed Lord it was somewhat similar,
inasmuch as the sanctification of His Soul followed
the same rules, or rather formed the model of those
same principles in our sanctification, seeing that His
was in every respect a human Soul. One very marked
difference, however, must be acknowledged. In men,
even those most advanced towards perfection, the
rising up of a strong feeling against certain vices or
dispositions is seldom, if ever, caused by their own
simple immunity from those bad qualities, or by their
possession of the opposite virtues. Invariably does
something of nature, some imperfection lend its help
to the effect, be it but a tinge of that mere natural
repugnance which flows from refinement of sentiment,
delicacy of perception, or intellectual culture.
In human aversions there lurks too another danger,
that of its passing on from denouncing the vicious act
to direct itself against the person who has committed
it, or in whose soul the vice resides. or does man s
aversion always restrain itself within just limits, but
becomes at times a source of discord and disorder in
the soul. Such imperfections are only the natural
consequences of our fallen nature. But with Jesus,
not one of those imperfections, so inseparable from
our aversions, could find a resting-place. In Him was
no sin, no shadow of sin. o taint of concupiscence
marred His Soul. Into His thoughts, or motives, or
springs of action, could enter no discord, no disorder.
He could abhor with an intense repulsion each par
ticular vice, as in the case of the Pharisees ; yet, all the
while, the soul in which it found home remained ever
an object of compassionate love to Him, and the reason
of this was that in Him alone the bitterest of His
.aversions proceeded exclusively from the perfection and
-beauty of His human Soul allied to His Divinity.
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