Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The expert of the law in today’s Gospel interrogates Jesus in order to trap him. But I can pose the same question to him in order to listen to his personal response to me. He is the last word on what is important in my daily life, on how I should act. I must listen with confidence to what he says. And what does he say?
He says to be an authentic Christian means to love God. That is the essence of my prayer, to tell him in complete simplicity that I love him, not only in word, but in deed. That attitude leads directly to the love of my “neighbor”, which is not a vague concept, but a flesh-and-blood person, particularly those near me. The Eucharist is the source of that love – and the assembled community at the Mass I attend each Sunday reinforces that bond.
This Sunday, as I attend Mass, I’ll take special notice of the young people and teenagers about me – few as they are – guys dressed in cut-offs; girls in blouses ready to explode. These are those that Pope Francis challenged at last year’s World Youth Day to “swim against the tide”. So I pray in gratitude for their presence at Mass, while wishing that Jane Austin could design their Sunday ware. I pray that our youth recognize what the tide is they are asked to swim against, where it threatens to take them and that the Lord give them the know-how and the power to do fast laps – fast.
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.