Alphonse de Ligouri
Jesus a Prisoner in the Womb of
"I am become as a man without help, free among the dead."
Consider the painful life that Jesus led in
the womb of His Mother, and the long-confined and dark imprisonment
that he suffered there for nine months. Other infants are indeed in
the same state; but they do not feel the miseries of it, because
they do not know them. But Jesus knew them well, because from the
first moments of his life he had the perfect use of reason. He had
his senses, but he could not use them; eyes, but he could not see; a
tongue, but he could not speak, hands, but he could not stretch them
out; feet, but he could not walk; - so that for nine months he had
to remain in the womb of Mary like a dead man shut up in the tomb:
I am become as a man without help, free amongst the dead.
Psalm 87:5,6 He was free, because he had of
his own freewill made himself a prisoner of love in this prison; but
love deprived him of liberty, and bound him there so fast in chains
that he could not move: "Free among the dead! oh, great patience of
our Saviour!" says St Ambrose, while he considered the sufferings of
Jesus in the womb of Mary.
The womb of Mary was, therefore, to our Redeemer a voluntary
prison, because it was a prison of love. But it was also not an
unjust prison: he was indeed innocent himself, but he had offered
himself to pay our debts and to satisfy for our crimes. It was
therefore only reasonable for the divine justice to keep him thus
imprisoned, and so begin to exact from him the due satisfaction.
Behold the state to which the Son of God reduces himself for
the love of men! he deprives himself of his liberty and puts
himself in chains, to deliver us from the chains of hell. What
gratitude and love should we not show in return for the love and
goodness of our deliverer and our surety, who, not by compulsion but
only out of love, offered himself to pay, and has paid for us, our
debts and our penalties by giving up his divine life! Forget not
the kindness of thy surety; for He hath given his life for thee.