Thirty-Second Sunday In Ordinary Time Reflection
This is truly an awesome aspiration; called to the perfection of holiness as children of the resurrection.
This holiness is participation and reflection of God who is Love. The desert fathers and mothers emphasised the primacy of Love and the purity of heart as essential to spiritual life and authentic communion with God. Where do we find this holiness so that we too may participate and reflect God’s Love into our world?
When St Francis was asked where this perfection was to be found amongst his brother friars, he answered: … Imitate the lives and possess the merits of these holy friars:
- the perfect faith and Love of poverty of Brother Bernard;
- the simplicity and purity of Brother Leo;
- the courtesy of Brother Angelo;
- the gracious look and natural good sense of Brother Masseo;
- the mind upraised to God possessed in its highest perfection by Brother Giles;
- the virtuous and constant prayer of Brother Rufino;
- the patience of Brother Juniper;
- the bodily and spiritual courage of Brother John of Lauds;
- the charity of Brother Roger;
- the caution of Brother Lucidus … for ‘Our home is not here but in heaven’.
In Jesus we find the perfect reflection of God’s Love in our world:
- “Jesus Loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus” (John 11:5).
- Jesus looked at the rich young man and Loved him. No buts or ifs or provided that… Jesus Loved him.
- When Jesus was facing his own death and saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he Loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’
Sometimes we also can catch little glimpses of God’s Love flaming in our world; a little bit over here and a little bit over there. We may find the reflection of God’s Love between husband and wife or between parent and child. In families also we are told we can see God’s face. The priest on the altar celebrating the Eucharist can reflect the face of Christ as easily as the faces of our brothers and sisters. Looking deeply into the heart of creation we can come to see God’s reflection.
We may even gain a little taste of the beatific union of souls, fleeting moments of imminent bliss that can only truly belong in the transcendent world.
Yet as often as we try to capture these little vignettes of God’s presence, God’s Love cannot be contained within any particular vessel, for it is far too wide, far too deep and far too everlasting to truly be reflected or contained within any singular container.
This is always the problem when we segregate, judge, canonise, and apply our human standards of what is good, true and beautiful, and therefore what is right within our particular structures. Each and every container is too small so that the flowering of Love becomes root bound, unable to grow down into God’s Love. This is the destiny of all religions that does not open itself to the immense bounty of God’s Love.
Like the Sadducees, we all too often apply our neat little philosophical window boxes; if this, then that, therefore we must exclude… In this case, the Sadducee’s reason that we must exclude the resurrection must exclude any divine vocation.
This judgement will end badly; denying Jesus divinity by seeking to destroy Jesus’ humanity. We also often fail to see the divinity within our brothers and sisters and so would also exclude their humanity. This we would deem righteous indignation because there Love does not comply with the matrix of my own reflection, does not follow my canon of what is ‘intrinsically ordered’?
And so we pass a sentence on Love itself; Love ordered within law towards propagation and ancestry. This is the argument of the Sadducees. We have a law, and according to that law, they must be put to death.
There are many ways in which we also convict our brothers and sisters to sitting outside our barriers; many ways in which we impose this death penalty. Each time our feet are planted within this circle of righteous indignation, our participation in God’s Love becomes confounded as the reflection of God dims.
Let us recall ourselves to the ways of the desert Abbas and Ammas; let us also recall ourselves to that purity of a broken heart that allows the immortal diamond within to reflect that Love that God breathed into our soul, creating us human and divine in the image of the universal Christ.
The bigger the container becomes, the wider our hearts stretch so that God’s infinite wisdom conforms us also to becoming God’s fool. This was the way St Francis found for himself and this is our calling too.