Saturday in the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
The air is full of excitement in today’s gospel. When the Seventy-Two return from their missionary journey, they are overjoyed to report back to Jesus everything they did. Based on what they said, it would be hard not to be excited. “Even the demons” were subject to them. There have been days when I wished my students were a little more subject to me–I have never even thought about trying to exercise authority over spiritual beings of vast power. But Jesus calms them down a little bit. The reason for the disciples’ joy is not power or success, but that their “names are written in heaven”– they have a relationship with God lasting even through death.
We certainly have many reasons to rejoice as Catholics. We can point to great works of art and architecture, or venerable old institutions, and take pride in the Church’s contribution to civilization. At the start of the week, Pope Francis concluded a wildly successful trip to Cuba and the United States, and was received into America with all the pomp the U.S. government could offer. But Jesus’ words still speak to us: do not rejoice because of this. This notability will fade, the buildings will crumble, the art will decay. God’s love will last. Our relationship with Him can be unending. We began the week by looking at what will truly last; now we end the week with Jesus’ reminder that a loving relationship with Him and the Father is what truly will truly last through eternity.
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.