Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle
Discipleship can feel a little bit like playing dress-up. When I was little, I had costumes that I liked to wear–police officer, firefighter, etc.–and pretend what I would be when I grew up. I would act very adult and responsible, pleased with myself. But, eventually, playtime would end and I would revert to being little. St. Andrew has a similar experience in today’s gospel–he is playing dress-up with the title “fisher of men.” Slowly but surely, though, he grows from someone who abandons Jesus at the Cross to someone who is likewise crucified. He grows into his costume until it is no longer a costume, but a vocation.
The same can be said for all of us. When we are baptized, we are called sons and daughters of God–and rightly so. Whether infant or adult, everyone marvels at our newfound holiness–symbolized by the white robe we have put on. But then reality sets in. We are different, but the world feels the same. Slowly but surely, though, we can change. Andrew’s conversion was not overnight, and we are no different. Just as we grew gradually into adulthood with the help of family and friends, so too we grow gradually into discipleship with the help of the Church. We receive the sacraments, we encourage one another, we speak to God. And eventually, like Andrew, we can grow into the clothes of a disciple until they are no longer a costume, but our vocation.
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.