” . . . slain with such fire of love”

“St. Catherine of Siena ‘speaks of the crucified Jesus as “slain with such fire of love. . . as seems insatiable.  Yet still he thirsts, as if saying: ‘I have greater ardor and desire and thirst for your salvation that I am able to show you, [even] with my Passion.’ ”  Catherine could only descrive the God she encountered as ‘crazed with love.'”  (from Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire by Fr. Joseph Langford)

“Lord, show us the Father.”

You can almost hear the sound of exasperation in Jesus’ reply to Philip’s request: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip?  He who has seen me has seen the Father: how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (Jn 14.9)  This week long I have been remembering and pondering a conversation I had with a good priest-friend of mine.  He made the insightful comment that he considered one of Christ’s greatest sufferings to be that so, so many did not grasp the most important part of His mission–and that was: to reveal the Father’s love to us.  How frustrating for Jesus to have so very few whose hearts and eyes were open to perceive this desire of His Heart and to satisfy it.  Imagine for yourself what it is like to try to communicate your own love and appreciation of someone dear to your heart.  You want everyone to know the goodness of this person you know.  One of my own favorite things is to introduce my friends to each other–so that these wonderful people that I know may get to know each other.  And here is Jesus who wishes to open the depths of our souls to the Father of all goodness. . . and we so often say with Philip, “Where is He? Show Him to us.”

Come, Holy Spirit, open our hearts wide to the full revelation of the Father through Jesus.  Help us to satisfy this never ending desire of His to “show us the Father.”

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 . . .

Those whom He Himself wanted

Jesus calls each of us because He loves us.

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Today is the anniversary of my final vows to our community, The Servants of God’s Love.  This morning before Mass I picked up a book I am reading–for the second or third time–Mercy in Weakness, by Andre Louf.  This is what I read: “Jesus called to him those whom he himself wanted” (Mk 3:13).  Of course, this refers to Jesus’ calling of the twelve apostles, but isn’t it just as true for us, each of us–for, yes, He called me to religious life, but it is just as true that He called you to whatever you said yes to in your own lives.  The RSV says: “those whom he desired”.  Think about that today: God called you, and me, out of desire for you.

A person was simply selected because Jesus preferred him, without any further motives.  Jesus chooses the rich and the poor, Jewish nationalists and collaborators, ordinary people and fishermen.  At the moment of selection what matters is not what these people are.  He simply prefers them because he loves them, each one individually.  Nothing other than Jesus’ love and preference explains this selection.

Calling of St. Peter and St. Andrew (James Tissot)
Calling of St. Peter and St. Andrew (James Tissot)

He prefers you because He loves you, short and simple.  And not just when He called you.  Even now.

and the Angels danced

Heaven’s response at our penitence.

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This poem by Mother Mary Francis, a poor Clare, has been on my mind this morning:

Choreography for Angels
“I say to you, that there is joy among the angels
in heaven upon one sinner doing penance . . . ”
(Luke 15:10)

Who spun these Angels into dance
When wars are needing all artillery
Of spirits’ cannonading.  Armistice
Wants first the over-powering wings, and they
Are occupied with pirouettes!  Who did this?

                               Gone penitent, I caused it.  I confess it.

Who tilted flames of Seraphim
In arabesques of pure delightedness?
Is not the cosmic crisis begging fire
For full destruction of hate’s hazarding!
Why Seraphs swirling flames on floors of heaven?

                                  I lit the heavens, when I bent my head.

Who lined mystic corps-de-ballet
Of Cherubim?  Who set in pas-de-deux
This Power with this Principality?
Why these Archangels not on mission sent
Today, but waltzing on the stars, and singing?

                         I am the one who did this.  I confess it.
                            I smote my errant heart, and Angels danced.

May we remember this is the reality of the Heart of God.

The power of wounding His Heart

The simplest glance of our eyes wounds and ravishes the Heart of Christ.

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Healing of the woman with an issue of blood
Healing of the woman with an issue of blood

  Reflecting on today’s Gospel (Mark 5) about the woman with the flow of blood who reaches out and touches Christ’s garment, I remember this pithy quote from Gilbert of Hoyland: “The woman touched but the hem of His garment, and Christ felt virtue go forth from Him.  How much more is it when His Heart is not only lightly touched, but wounded.”  And how do we wound His Heart? The word is meant in a good sense here, as in Song of Songs 4:9: “You have ravished (Vulgate: wounded) my heart, my sister my bride, you have ravished (wounded) my heart with a glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”   What power we have over the Heart of our Beloved Lord, that just a single glance from us–throughout our busy days–ravishes and wounds His Heart. . .  Do not underestimate the simplest lifting up of your heart to Him, the simplest glance of your eyes.