Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
In our first reading today St. Paul instructs us that God manifests himself in what is interior to us – reason/conscience – and what is external to us – nature. But history shows that, thanks to sin, man is inclined to become easily distracted. Result: the image of God easily gets out of focus. For this reason God sent his Son, the perfect image of the Father and so we are able to know his supernatural plan by faith and by the study of theology.
As usual. the Gospel tells us something about the Son. But what we learn is disconcerting. We are introduced to an angry Jesus. He shows us he cannot tolerate an inward oriented religion that is bound up in external practices – substitutes for real religion. So we ask ourselves: What is it that keeps us from being religious phonies and teaches us how to be real? The answer is – Prayer. It is a happy coincidence that today we celebrate the feast of St. Teresa of Jesus, an authority on prayer and the first woman to be declared “Doctor of the Church”. Describing mental prayer, she wrote, “It is nothing else than an intimate friendship, a frequent heart-to-heart conversation with Him by whom we know ourselves to be loved.” (Autobiography (Life, viii)) We know by experience the more intimate we are with a friend or loved one, the less we pretend and the more we are who we really are. Prayer penetrates the deepest recesses of our being and there Jesus shows us Himself and tells us that He is reflected in those who suffer. There we learn that a conversion of heart, the wiping away of phoniness, shows itself in the sympathy we show to others.