Fourth Sunday of Easter
We live in an apparently very tolerant age: so it would appear. It is commonly held that all religions are simply different ways up the same mountain (how could anyone know that?). Yet we are living in an age of fierce persecution of Christians, which has spilled over from the great century of martyrs, the 20th century. The 21st century is likely to top that, and that by far. Appearances can be deceiving. Tolerance often means putting up with something you can’t stand until you can get your own way – and then force your views on another. So it would appear.
The promoters of tolerance are inclined to opine that all religions are different ways of salvation. But they fall into a very interesting error: for not all religions are interested in salvation at all. Salvation means being saved. Saved from being lost. Now death is the most obvious “loss” – the dissolution of body and soul, their separation, with the decay of the body, and the not at all obvious destiny of the soul. Much ancient – and Asian – wisdom would hold that total indifference is the only way to get through life, for all that we see is just the stuff of dreams, illusion. All the enticing forms of creation are really only a smokescreen thrown up by the great silence beyond. We become attached to them, and so lose ourselves. There is no salvation desired, but rather dissolution, total detachment.
Jesus comes into this very strange world, and loves it with everything in him (and that means, from the Father in the Holy Spirit as well). The world kills Him, but He returns, resurrected, and opens the doors of Heaven for any who hear His voice. That is, He saves the world, or at least those who hear His voice. The Beloved Form returns. He is the Good Shepherd, who saves His sheep. Saves us from that non-being that threatens us on every side, and that great, dark void into which we are headed – unless we are saved. And there is one savior. His name is Jesus. Though there are many teachers of wisdom, there is salvation in no other name. Jesus. Praise Him.
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.