Daily Reflection
December 14th, 2001
Daniel Hendrickson, S.J.
Philosophy Department
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Memorial of Saint John of the Cross
Isaiah 48:17-19
Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
Matthew 11:16-19

The day is John of the Cross day.  We celebrate a radical openness to God and his grace as lived with great sincerity and great devotion by a great ancestor of ours.  We celebrate a passion for God, a search for the divine at times all too desperate and desolate, but then rich and wonderful.  We celebrate a mystic.

The mystic seems so surreal to us.  Different for sure, but moody, too.  Ecstatically religious now, hopelessly alone and abandoned then.  The extremes are great.  And John of the Cross and his devotion to God well navigated what Ignatius of Loyola called the consolations and the desolations of the spiritual life: God so close and God so distant, an intimacy and a loneliness, intense well-being and an agitated soul.  Iíve heard it said before that only the few can be mystics.  For one, if we were all mystics the world be entirely too bipolar!

Iím not so sure that we are that different, however.  You and I and our daily lives...  We are busy about the things of the world, people of action working to better our lives and the lives of the people around us.  But we are contemplatives nonetheless: contemplatives in action.  We seek to find God, to recognize him and to better understand him.  We are detectives looking for clues of grace, moments of goodness and beauty and truth which inspire our lives.  As Christians we look for the face of Jesus in all the shapes and colors human diversity affords.  As Christians of Advent we speak of this search as wait, longing for Jesus to intervene again and again with the forgiveness, compassion, healing, and patience that Jesus gives us.  And like the mystics, we sometimes get it, we sometimes donít.  We know the peace of the mystic, but we know her soul-desire, too.  His longing.  Ignatiusí consolations and desolations arenít so foreign to us.

But our persistence is crucial.  Our willingness to stay spiritually engaged, to continue the search, to be people of hope ultimately.  Jesus, in a moment all to human in the Gospel today, seems to be impatient, discouraged by a new generation.  We at least get this invitation: maintain your faith!  Indeed, the faith life is precarious.  Kierkegaard expounds as such in his philosophy.  A leap in the dark!, he calls it.  But it demands . . . rather, deserves a persistence in both its glory and its growing pains.  John of the Cross demonstrates it, Jesus reminds us: persistence.

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