Friday in the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
Today’s gospel may have one of the most bewildering accounts about Jesus contained in the Scriptures. Jesus curses a fig tree because it did not have fruit. What’s more, we are told that “it was not the time for figs.” Jesus not only curses a fig tree, which then withers and dies from His curse, but he curses it for not having figs, even though figs were not in season. This hardly squares with human notions of fair play.
The event reminds me of a line from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Susan is nervous about meeting Aslan when she finds out he is a lion, and asks if he is safe. One of the animals replies that “he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” So, too, with Jesus. He isn’t safe. He isn’t some abstract theory of rightness we can just put in whatever box we wish. He is His own person, with a mind and will of His own. Jesus is outside of our control. To follow Him, we must give up our notions of control and our ideas of safety. What we can rely on is His unconditional goodness. The question we must ask ourselves as we embark on the whirlwind of the Christian life is whether God’s goodness is enough.
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.