Monday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
I taught theology for many years at a university. After a number of years, I began to become restless: there was much talk about God – after all, that is what theology is – but I began to wonder: does anyone here really know God? With a wistful spirit I began hanging around the department office and asking: “Has anyone around here seen God lately?” Perhaps naturally, I eventually moved on.
I had come to see that theologians are really rather like the scribes of which Jesus spoke – theologians have rich storehouses, full of ideas, and the good scribe can bring treasures new and old out of the storehouse. This is certainly helpful and needful. But without contemplation it can be a bit like accumulating recipes without ever cooking or eating.
We have one life in this world and we are taught to “seek God while He may be found.” Our world encourages us to start running and keep running, accumulating all sorts of things, endlessly running. But if we are blessed, something happens that allows God to “get a word in edgewise” – and begins to free us up from those possessions we certainly cannot take with us when this earthly sojourn is completed. By grace we are saved (Ephesians 2), God’s gift of saving faith freely given to us. Let us then turn from accumulating things – and ideas – and seek the face of that God who is steadily leading us toward our eternal home.
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.