Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

22 February 2014

What A Holy Order!

For all the technological progress that humanity has made in the past decades, we have yet to bridle our stubborn spirits. In our relative ease, it's easy to see this on a large scale with the volatile governments of Ukraine and Venezuela, or the senseless, horrific things that happen on our own shores; but we must first, and always, look within. We can be quick to emit our venom; or if our so-called civility urges restraint, the poison may ooze forth in words and glances.

Mosaic Law had called for “an eye for an eye” in order to avert disproportionate punishments. Even in Jesus’ own day, Herod granted the head of John the Baptist to declare his delight for a dirty dancer! Therefore Jesus’ coming was most opportune, with its invitation to espouse a new perspective, a new respect: a new Law to be written upon our hearts, written by our hearts onto the hearts of others.

What great courage and resolve the Lord requires, to be “holy” and “perfect” as the Father is! Most of us wilt in the face of such an invitation. Jesus doesn’t rush to soften the blow of the challenge; instead, He doubles down in His attempts to impress upon us a higher calling, to “turn the other cheek,” “go the extra mile,” “love your enemies” and all that nonsense.

Yeah, that’s right. You heard me call it “nonsense.” When we fudge on Jesus’ commandment of sacrificial love, when we make exceptions in our minds for certain ones on our list whom we fancy or whom we don’t, when we avoid the people and situations that might upset our delicate balance or inconvenience our schedules, we’re essentially throwing it all out, calling it nonsense.

We more likely consider growth in virtue as something we agree with and admire, and on good days strive to undertake, but no less a struggle. Persons in recovery are familiar with a certain line from the  "Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous: "What an order! I can't go through with it!" As often as the difficulty hits us, we can take a deep breath, find support from God and others, and march on.
"You'll be better before you're married," they used to say upstate.
To be fair, defiance isn’t always on our minds; but self-interest certainly tends to be. The Lord encourages us not to cling excessively to how we think our lives should unfold each day, and who deserves our time and attention, in favor of His sometimes distressing, but always fulfilling, surprises.

How can we possibly fulfill God’s command to be holy? Because we are holy. “Do you not know,” Paul asks, “that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” No conditions are mentioned. What a consolation, that God wouldn’t lead us where His grace wouldn’t feed us. So go ahead: write that Law of sacrificial love—write it in big letters with flourishes!

No comments:

Post a Comment