Monday of the Second Week in Lent
Lent is a time given to me to recognize I am a sinner, not in some abstract, holy-card way, but in the concrete, the existential. The first reading in today’s Mass presents a vision of the grandeur and holiness of our heavenly Father. It helps me see why I must get rid of my infidelities, wipe away all that prevents me from seeing him watching over me, pardoning me of my sins, drawing me closer to himself.
In the Gospel Christ tells me that The Father will pardon me in the measure that I pardon others. Again: not others in the abstract, but those I rub shoulders with daily. Like love and marriage, horse and carriage, these two aspects of my Christian life are inseparable. As “Old Blue Eyes” used to sing it: “This I tell ya, brother, you can’t have one without the other.” Christ tells this is how it is in regards to forgiveness.
And Christ shows me how. He never condemned anyone. Before judging anyone, he did everything to save him. To condemn anyone is to despair of him. It also means giving up hope that our Father forgives. My own experience denies that’s the case. So it’s back to the first reading to contemplate his grandeur, his love for me and for all.
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.