When our Lord came upon earth, He might have created a fresh body for Himself out of nothing-or He might have formed a body for Himself out of the earth, as He formed Adam. But He preferred to be born, as other men are born, of a human mother. Why did He do so? He did so to put honour on all those earthly relations and connections which are ours by nature; and to teach us that, though He has begun a new creation, He does not wish us to cast off the old creation, as far as it is not sinful. Hence it is our duty to love and honour our parents, to be affectionate to our brothers, sisters, friends, husbands, wives, not only not less, but even more, than it was man’s duty before our Lord came on earth. As we become better Christians, more consistent and zealous servants of Jesus, we shall become only more and more anxious for the good of all around us-our kindred, our friends, our acquaintances, our neighbours, our superiors, our inferiors, our masters, our employers. And this we shall do from the recollection how our Lord loved His Mother. He loves her still in heaven with a special love. He refuses her nothing. We then on earth must feel a tender solicitude for all our relations, all our friends, all whom we know or have dealings with. And moreover, we must love not only those who love us, but those who hate us or injure us, that we may imitate Him, who not only was loving to His Mother, but even suffered Judas, the traitor, to kiss Him, and prayed for His murderers on the cross.
Let us pray God for our relations, friends, well wishers, and enemies, living and dead.
O Jesus, son of Mary, whom Mary followed to the Cross when Thy disciples fled, and who didst bear her tenderly in mind in the midst of Thy sufferings, even in Thy last words, who didst commit her to Thy best beloved disciple, saying to her, “Woman, behold thy son,” and to him, “Behold thy Mother,” we, after Thy pattern, would pray for all who are near and dear to us, and we beg Thy grace to do so continually. We beg Thee to bring them all into the light of Thy truth, or to keep them in Thy truth if they already know it, and to keep them in a state of grace, and to give them the gift of perseverance. We thus pray for our parents, for our fathers and our mothers, for our children, for every one of them, for our brothers and sisters, for every one of our brothers, for every one of our sisters, for our cousins and all our kindred, for our friends, and our father’s friends, for all our old friends, for our dear and intimate friends, for our teachers, for our pupils, for our masters and employers, for our servants or subordinates, for our associates and work-fellows, for our neighbours, for our superiors and rulers; for those who wish us well, for those who wish us ill; for our enemies; for our rivals; for our injurers and for our slanderers. And not only for the living, but for the dead, who have died in the grace of God, that He may shorten their time of expiation, and admit them into His presence above.
Bl. John Henry Newman,
Meditations and Devotions, Christian Classics, Westminster 1975, pp. 200-202