Friday: from the archives

Good Samaritan

This picture can be found on the cover of Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis’ commentary on St. Matthew’s Gospel.  (See Books tab above.)  This is how the back of the book describes this picture:

The book’s cover portrays Christ as the Good Samaritan in an illumination taken from the mid sixth-century Syrian Codex Rossanensis. The fire of God’s mercy, poured out without reserve by the Father into the Heart of his incarnate Word, impels the Son’s eager gaze earthwards.  Christ Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, the living ‘image of the invisible God’ in whom ‘the whole fullness of divinity dwells bodily’ (Colossians 1:15, 2:9), bends down his sun-like nimbus—the very splendor of his glory, inscribed with the cross of his suffering—in a full ninety-degree angle, to show the perfection of His descent among us.  The eternal Lord of the ages thus moves into position to nurse with divine tenderness the green body of decaying humanity, prostrate with festering wounds: ‘Through the tender mercy of our God, the Dawn from on high has visited us, to give knowledge of salvation to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death’ (Luke 2:78f).  For his part, the dazzling angel has found a new mode of praise: to stand by his Master, marveling and ministering as he holds the gold bowl of grace and compassion, awestruck at the depth of the Word’s condescension.  What even angelic hands cannot touch unveiled, that Christ lavishes with open gesture upon the flesh and soul of his beloved brother, sin-wounded man.

Sometimes I just sit and meditate on how I am that green man lying in the road and try to imagine Christ standing over me pouring out His mercy–that even the angels cannot touch–upon me.  Peguy says: “It was because a man lay on the road that  a Samaritan picked him up.  It is because we lay on the road that Christ picks us up . . .

“It was because a man lay on the road . . .”

A painting or a song can be so powerful.  The picture below can be found on the cover of the first volume of Fire of Mercy by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, a Trappist monk.  I have been meditating on it this Lent.  I know I have posted about this picture before, but can’t help sharing it with you again.

Good Samaritan

This is how the back of the book describes this picture:

The book’s cover portrays Christ as the Good Samaritan in an illumination taken from the mid sixth-century Syrian Codex Rossanensis. The fire of God’s mercy, poured out without reserve by the Father into the Heart of his incarnate Word, impels the Son’s eager gaze earthwards.  Christ Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, the living ‘image of the invisible God’ in whom ‘the whole fullness of divinity dwells bodily’ (Colossians 1:15, 2:9), bends down his sun-like nimbus—the very splendor of his glory, inscribed with the cross of his suffering—in a full ninety-degree angle, to show the perfection of His descent among us.  The eternal Lord of the ages thus moves into position to nurse with divine tenderness the green body of decaying humanity, prostrate with festering wounds: ‘Through the tender mercy of our God, the Dawn from on high has visited us, to give knowledge of salvation to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death’ (Luke 2:78f).  For his part, the dazzling angel has found a new mode of praise: to stand by his Master, marveling and ministering as he holds the gold bowl of grace and compassion, awestruck at the depth of the Word’s condescension.  What even angelic hands cannot touch unveiled, that Christ lavishes with open gesture upon the flesh and soul of his beloved brother, sin-wounded man.

Sometimes I just sit and meditate on how I am that green man lying in the road and try to imagine Christ standing over me pouring out His mercy–that even the angels cannot touch–upon me.  Peguy says: “It was because a man lay on the road that a Samaritan picked him up.”  It is because we lay on the road that Christ picks us up . . .

The voice of the Father

One of the wonders of the Lord’s Baptism, which we celebrate today, is that for the first time Christ heard His Father’s voice as a man.  This has incredible meaning for us, this unveiling of the heart of the Father for us:

“It is as man that he now hears his Father and sees the Spirit, and he rejoices that, because he now dwells humbly among the sons of men, the Father can no longer speak to him without his fellow-man feeling something of the vibration of that resounding Voice.  Christ brings man not so much a teaching as a dazzling proximity to the inner life of God.  And the very essence of the divine life, the very life-breath of the Son, is the good pleasure, the gracious favor and delight of the Father.” (Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis)

Through His baptism by John, Jesus shows us the way to attaining this inner life.  He humbly show us; He patterns for us what He has no need of.   As Leiva-Merikakis points out: “His present task is to show what human repentance in the presence of God is to be, and it surely comes to him as no surprise that the gift of the Spirit is the result of such repentance and turning to God.”  All God the Father asks of us is humility and repentance, something attainable by each of us.  We are not asked to accomplish great ascetic works or perform great deeds.  All that is needed is a humble and contrite heart . . . and then we each hear spoken to us personally: “Here is my beloved son/daughter, in whom I am well pleased.”

Empty enough

If you are feeling empty today, then you are ready for the Christ Child to enter in:

“And yet a paradox is involved here: this greatness and depth of God can be perceived only by babes, the nêpioi or ‘infants’–those who have no words of their own–and not by those who are wise and possess understanding according to the logic of the world.  Not in vain does Saint Bernard say, Non consolatur Christi infantia garrulosChrist’s infancy does not console the garrulous.’  To these–mere babes, to those of innocent heart–God reveals his inmost secrets as to his intimate friends and dear children.  There is a clear affinity between God and children.  This truth is at the center of the mystery of Christmas, when God is revealed in the form of a baby.  More than mere ‘affinity,’ this is actual identification: The eternal God becomes what he most loves on earth–a child.  But this is no mere sweet sentimentality on God’s part: If he loves the childlike, it is because they are empty enough to receive what he wants to give, a mystery Guerric of Igny expounds:
‘If in the depths of your soul you were to keep a quiet silence, the all-powerful Word would flow from the Father’s throne secretly into you.  Happy then is the person who has so fled the world’s tumult, who has so withdrawn into the solitude and secrecy of interior peace, that he can hear not only the Voice of the Word, but the Word himself: not John but Jesus.’”  (Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis)

Jesus, the Good Samaritan to us

The gospel today (about the Good Samaritan) brought the picture below to mind.  It can be found on the cover of Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis’ commentary on St. Matthew’s Gospel.  (See Books tab above.)  Good SamaritanThis is how the back of the book describes this picture:

The book’s cover portrays Christ as the Good Samaritan in an illumination taken from the mid sixth-century Syrian Codex Rossanensis. The fire of God’s mercy, poured out without reserve by the Father into the Heart of his incarnate Word, impels the Son’s eager gaze earthwards.  Christ Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, the living ‘image of the invisible God’ in whom ‘the whole fullness of divinity dwells bodily’ (Colossians 1:15, 2:9), bends down his sun-like nimbus—the very splendor of his glory, inscribed with the cross of his suffering—in a full ninety-degree angle, to show the perfection of His descent among us.  The eternal Lord of the ages thus moves into position to nurse with divine tenderness the green body of decaying humanity, prostrate with festering wounds: ‘Through the tender mercy of our God, the Dawn from on high has visited us, to give knowledge of salvation to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death’ (Luke 2:78f).  For his part, the dazzling angel has found a new mode of praise: to stand by his Master, marveling and ministering as he holds the gold bowl of grace and compassion, awestruck at the depth of the Word’s condescension.  What even angelic hands cannot touch unveiled, that Christ lavishes with open gesture upon the flesh and soul of his beloved brother, sin-wounded man.

Sometimes I just sit and meditate on how I am that green man lying in the road and try to imagine Christ standing over me pouring out His mercy–that even the angels cannot touch–upon me.  Peguy says: “It was because a man lay on the road that  a Samaritan picked him up.  It is because we lay on the road that Christ picks us up . . .