Homily for a Study Day on the Spiritual Exercises dealing with the Contemplatio ad Amorem
Readings: Dan 12:1-13; Heb 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32
A plane passed over and I could hear it with a shudder even though I was sitting in The Arches (basement prayer room). I heard the plane in my praying and the thought passed through me that it could be the first bomber of a nuclear war. Twenty years ago in the last days of my 30-day retreat.
That wasn’t the only apocalyptic shiver of those days: someone was coughing and coughing and I found myself thinking of polluted air and poisoned waters; and then among the great cloud of witnesses gathered to help me pray ‘take Lord receive’ I could see the starving children of Africa in their millions. It felt like I was back at the beginning: looking at the way sin scars the world, or at the Incarnation looking down on all we are and all we do, well and ill.
But wasn’t this the Fourth Week, weren’t we asking for the grace of joy, the fruitfulness of the resurrection? What place does apocalyptic have here?
Well every place! Apocalypse means unveiling, lifting the veil that hides reality. And this was, and is, our reality: those horsemen of the apocalypse—war, plague, famine, and destruction—ride among us yet. They are our sin. They killed the one who came to save us. And yet he is not dead and we are offered a share in his joy. Not because we are better at covering up reality than the rest, nor because we are eager for the end, but because Jesus bore the brunt of hell on earth and was not bent by it. He is here today, alive, wounded, and joyful—the veil is off, he knows the full horror of global warming, of terrorism and genocide, of heartbreak and retribution—and he is not bent by it—not broken, not violent, not victorious—not bent.
It is with eyes wide open, eyes unveiled, we ask to stand with him and be as vulnerable as he: “Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and all my will—all that I have and possess. You, Lord, have given all that to me. I now give it back to you, O Lord. All of it is yours. Dispose of it according to your will. Give me your love and your grace, for that is enough for me.”