December 14, 2020
by Sr. Candice Tucci, OSF
Creighton University's College of Nursing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church Lectionary: 187

Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17
Psalms 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Matthew 21:23-27

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Let Your divinity shine on my intellect by giving it divine knowledge,
and on my will by imparting to it the divine love
and on my memory with the divine possession of glory – Prayer of St. John of the Cross

St. John of the Cross was a member of the Carmelite Order, priest and proclaimed “Mystical” Doctor of the Church. Born in Spain in 1542, he is also known in Spain as one of the most recognized authors of spiritual writings. Two of his best known poems are his Spiritual Canticle and The Dark Night also known as the Dark Night of the Soul. Partnering with St. Teresa of Avila, during this time of the Counter-Reformation in Spain, he was influential in reforming the Carmelite Order becoming known as the Discalced Carmelites following a stricter and more contemplative rule. This is significant as it resulted in conflict and division in the Order which led to his imprisonment. While imprisoned in a very small cell and mostly in the dark, John began to write his Spiritual Canticle. No doubt, the trials he endured while living his life, influenced the writing of The Dark Night describing the steps of growing to spiritual maturity. His prayer, to let the divine light shine on his intellect, desiring divine knowledge authored his life. It was the source of authoring more life through his writings and by the witness of his life responding the voice of God.

What is it to “author life?” The Latin origin of the word “author,” auctor, from augere, means to increase, originate, or promote. To author is to go to the origins, the source, the point of beginning. St. John of the Cross, through his deep contemplative life and prayer tapped into the Origins of Life, the Creator, God, who increases and expands as Love. That Love of God expanded came to us as Jesus. John was divinely inspired tapping into the well-spring of the Creators love to live Jesus.
I can imagine the words of our Psalm today, teach me your ways, O Lord, was constant on the lips of St. John.

Your ways, O Lord, make known to me;
Teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
For you are God my savior.

So, too, we find the words of Balaam who gave voice to his oracle, the Spirit. The utterance of one who hears what God says and knows what the Most High knows of one who sees what the Almighty sees…Divine inspiration, the Origin of Life, gives Balaam the authority, the power to proclaim the will of God. Balaam foretells, A star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel. Jesus, THE AUTHORITY, will walk the earth. Of one who sees what the Almighty sees, enraptured, and with eyes unveiled, I see him, though not now; I behold him, though not near…

Jesus continues to be challenged in the Gospel with the question, by what authority are you doing, these things? In time they will know that Jesus is the Author of Life. He is AUTHORITY. In him, through him and with him we live and have our being. His Spirit is alive and active within each one of us. Jesus empowers us to proclaim his presence, his word and together in mutuality be co-authors in the on-going creation of our world.

A star shall advance from Jacob. Perhaps this Advent Season is a reminder that a star may be sleeping within uswaiting to rise and shine to proclaim God is with US in our world at this time.

Let Your divinity shine on my intellect by giving it divine knowledge,
and on my will by imparting to it the divine love
and on my memory with the divine possession of glory – Prayer of St. John of the Cross

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