Friday of the First Week of Lent
Life is not fair. Time and again we see that. We see it so much that in the end one must wonder if God is fair. And that is confirmed in the Scriptures, where God is shown to be an unfair employer, who pays the same wages regardless of hours worked, where God is more concerned for the lost sheep than for the ninety-nine He has safely in hand. Though I am not sure this is accurate, I sometimes think that God is just but not fair, that He follows a scheme the rightness of which I get glimpses now and then, but that is simply not “our way.”
Our Lord’s great enemies in the Gospel accounts are the Scribes and the Pharisees. This is strange, since they were the most religious people around – the ones most concerned with the things of God, the ones most committed to living a righteous, just, holy, life. They were convinced they were living up to the demands of the Law, and so had earned the rewards of righteous living. They observed the letter of a Law, but were blind and deaf to the Spirit behind that Law calling out to them in the needs of others – but needs that might be not quite respectable, or inopportune, or unseemly. They would not dirty their hands with the messiness of humans, and worshipped an enchanted image of themselves.
Jesus insists that His disciples enter the Kingdom of Heaven: and that is a Kingdom with, well, a King, and that King wants all of us. Being King, He is judge, and is not bound by our ideas of right and wrong, nor by our ideas of what He should be doing. But this seems so unfair: God has told us what He expects, and we will hold Him for downs on it! And in so doing, we will make ourselves the judges of what is right, and the judges of who gets into Heaven. But that is not reality, not humility, not the way of Jesus. What can we do? Our best to love, and when we have done, say: “we are unprofitable servants” and rely on the justice of God.
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.