Everything in nature, grace and glory, all the effects of power, wisdom, goodness, mercy and justice of God, all the mysteries, actions and sufferings of the God-Man, all the sacrifices, sacraments and functions of God’s Church, in a word, all things in heaven, on earth and even in hell, are like so many voices proclaiming God’s ardent zeal for His own glory and for the salvation of souls.
In the first place, God does everything for Himself and for the glory of His divine Majesty: “The Lord hath made all things for himself” (Prov. 16:4). Being the first principle and the last end of all things, it were impossible for Him to act otherwise. This zeal for His own glory fills Him with an infinite hatred of everything that is contrary to it, that is, every kind of sin, especially vanity, presumption and pride. Whereas the humble render honor and glory to God in all things, the pride are like thieves who would take for themselves the honor and glory which belong to God alone. This same zeal for His honor leads God to derive His glory from all created things, even from the greatest evils. He would never permit such evils to exist if He did not have the power to turn them to His greater glory. As St. Augustine expresses it: “He has deemed it preferable to derive good from evil, than to prevent evil altogether” (1). Finally, the zeal of the Son of God for His Father’s honor induced Him to assume human nature, to be born in a stable, to live thirty-four years on earth amidst tribulations and sufferings, and to die on the Cross, that He might atone for the insults offered by sinners to God the Father and to glorify Him in a manner worthy of His infinite Majesty.
In the second place, God’s ineffable goodness and immense love for all the souls created to His image and likeness enkindles in His Heart a most ardent zeal for their salvation. It is this zeal that induces Him to avail Himself, in order to save souls, of His Divine Essence, His power, wisdom, goodness, love, charity, mercy, justice and all His other perfections. The three Divine Persons, their thoughts, words and actions, the life, passion, precious blood and death of the Son of God, the angels, the saints, the entire Church with the sacraments she administers, all God’s works, all He is, everything He has, everything is employed to procure the salvation of souls.
Now this divine zeal likewise inflames the virginal Heart of the Mother of God in a wonderful manner. The Holy Heart of Mary was ever on fire with such zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of souls that she never allowed anything contrary to the honor of the divine majesty to come near her. Not only were her actions performed with sovereign perfection for God’s glory alone, not only did she employ all the powers of her soul and body to serve and honor Him, but she was ever ready to sacrifice to this end her life and her very being, and to suffer all conceivable torments.
What is more, she sacrificed her well-beloved Son. Why did she offer Him up to God? For His glory and the salvation of souls. She immolated Christ Her Son to destroy everything contrary to the honor of the divine Majesty and the eternal salvation of men, to render to God a glory worthy of His infinite grandeur, to repair the offence given to God by the sins of the children of Adam, to deliver all souls from the tyranny of hell and to enable them to glorify God eternally in heaven.
St. John Chrysostom, Theophilactus, Oecumenius, St. Bernard and Rupert comment on these words of Moses in the thirty-second chapter of Exodus: “Either forgive them this trespass or strike me out of the book of life,” by explaining that this holy prophet, Moses, inflamed with zeal for the salvation of his brethren, asked God to deprive him of eternal felicity and to impose this penalty on him forever that the people might be delivered from damnation (2).
Explaining the words of St. Paul: “I wished myself to be anathema from Christ, for my brethren” (Rom. 9:3), St. John Chrysostom and many other holy doctors say also that we must understand this text to refer to the eternal torments, but separated from sin. In other words, the zeal of the holy Apostle for the salvation of his Brethren was so ardent that he desired for their sake to suffer the eternal punishment of hell, provided there was no sin on his part. “He wishes to be lost forever,” says Chrysostom, “that many, nay all, may love and praise Christ.” “He desires to suffer eternal torments,” says Cassian. “Because we are so far removed from such charity,” adds Chrysostom, “we cannot understand these words.” “We should not marvel,” observes Origen, “to see the servant desiring to be anathema for his brethren, since the Master deigned to become malediction for his servants, ‘being made a curse for us'” (Gal. 3:13) (3).