The life of our Blessed Saviour is the most excellent and perfect pattern of holiness and goodness, complete, entire and perfectly triumphant. We, who all need a pattern to imitate, will be in no danger of being led astray when we conform ourselves to His pattern of living. His Divinity is the great pattern of our perfection. He tells us we “must be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). In order that we might be able to achieve this end, it pleased God to condescend to our weakness; putting on mortal flesh, submitting Himself to His inferiors and suffering for those who, in truth, deserved to suffer. In doing so, He gives us a visible example of all those virtues He wants us to practise in all instances of our lives.
The life of our Blessed Lord gives potency to all our good desires and practices; we see all goodness conceived and executed by Our Lord. He “is at work in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). And His example is UNIVERSAL – for all time, for all people; no exceptions.
His example gives us the pattern of the most highest virtues: piety, obedience, purity and innocence. These virtues, perfectly demonstrated by Our Lord, are most admirable for the simple reason that they are virtues indicative of His true humility.
His example gives us the pattern of these most unusual virtues: sincerity, contempt of glory and gratuitous kindness. These virtues, perfectly demonstrated by Our Lord, are most admirable for the simple reason that they are virtues indicative of true sympathy.
His example also gives us the pattern of virtues that are most useful to others. He came to serve and not to be served (Mt 20:28). He came to give to all His followers abundant life (Jn 10:10). He comforts the suffering “in all their affliction, so that they may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which they are comforted by God (2 Cor 1:4). And He instructs the ignorant because all wisdom and truth is to be found in Our Lord Jesus (Ep 4:21). These virtues, perfectly demonstrated by Our Lord, are most admirable for the simple reason that they are virtues indicative of true compassion.
Furthermore, His example gives us the pattern of virtues that are for us most difficult to be practised, virtues that are most against the grain of our corrupted human nature. Christ denied Himself the heavenly glory that was His and condescended to live as a man. He gave Himself up wholly to the will of God saying; “Not my will but thine be done” (Lk 22:42). Our Lord subjected Himself to our prejudices and infirmities and He “did not please Himself; but [rather allowed] “the reproaches of those who reproached us to [fall upon Himself]” (Rom 15:3). He denied Himself lawful pleasures and lived a simple and menial life. Though His was the finest, most brilliant intellect ever, He eschewed His infinite superiority and instead “He made Himself of no reputation” (Phil 2:7). These virtues, perfectly demonstrated by Our Lord, are most admirable for the simple reason that they are virtues indicative of true meekness.
His example gives us the pattern of virtues that are the most needful to be practiced by us. In all His dealings with the lowest of the low, Our Lord never turned away one who was in need no matter how revolting or frightening. Neither did our Lord ever hastily disregard or ignore anyone who asked His attention; He was accessible to all who sought Him. These virtues, perfectly demonstrated by Our Lord, are most admirable for the simple reason that they are virtues indicative of true charity.
Our Lord crowned all of these virtues – true humility, true sympathy, true compassion, true meekness and true charity – with the virtues of perfect patience and forgiveness. Even in the midst of tremendous suffering, He was patient and forgiving. In His earthly ministry, in the Garden of Gethsemane, at His betrayal, at His trial and condemnation, as He bore His Cross and as He hung upon His Cross, Our Dear Lord demonstrated the degree to which we must practice patience and forgiveness. Most notably we are shown what it means to forgive 70 times 7 when nobody even asked for forgiveness at the foot of the Cross; yet The Lord Jesus pleaded; “Father, forgive them” (Lk 23:34).
Our Blessed Lord’s example is so powerful that all people of good will must be compelled to imitate it. If anyone is to attempt to do right in this world, there is no more excellent person to follow than Jesus of Nazareth, Son of Mary, Son of man and Son of God. His example is accessible to both powerful and weak, learned and unlearned, rich and poor, young and old. The imitation of Christ is the only means for us to know truth and to find true and lasting happiness. To be like our Lord, Who is both Lamb and Shepherd, is to be as good as it is possible for us to be. For “we are God’s children” and through imitating Christ “we know that when he appears [at the end of the age] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:2). And we who imitate His perfection purify ourselves as he is pure.