Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
In the First Reading today Paul uses some graphic images describing how a Christian should arm himself in meeting the Adversary. He should rig up head to toe in the accoutrements of war. (Ironically Paul was a chained prisoner when he wrote this!). It is easy to imagine him bellowing out at his cell wall the final exhortation in the last section of this reading. Paul was never one to shy away from using “offensive language”.
His toughness is the pattern for how to witness to the Gospel in our limpid, politically correct society. Pray that we too can strip ourselves of soft ways and human respect, convinced that ultimately it is not fellow human beings we are facing, but the devil, our real enemy. And we need the right kind of armor to confront him.
Doesn’t Jesus give witness to the same message in today’s Gospel: “Go tell that fox…”? It was a response that the fathers at the Synod on the Family might have used with profit to reply to anyone the devil uses to contest God’s design of marriage. Let us pray today that the Holy Spirit will arm all Christians who defend the family and marriage with the gear Paul recommends for war.
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.