For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the blood of his cross
through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.
What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I do for Christ?
Ex.Sp. 53, St Ignatius of Loyola
While this Solemnity is recent (1925), it fits well with the Liturgical Calendar; it ends a year in a stark manner, just before Advent, another stark time, even though I tend to only think of the lights at the end of the tunnel — the celebrations, the gifts, and the Christmas banquet.
Our King’s throne is the cross, his assistants, two thieves — a good one and a ‘bad’ one. Our King — of the Beatitudes, Gethsemane, and Easter morning.
At mass yesterday evening, I remembered Ignatius’ meditation of the call of the ‘temporal king’, generous and kind, worthy to be followed. Simultaneously, Christ calls me to follow him, in pain and in glory (Sp.Ex. 91). Where shall I go?
Shortly, afterwards, Ignatius suggests to meditate on the Two Standards (as in ‘flags’) where he explains that “Christ calls and desires all persons to come under his standard, and how Lucifer in opposition calls them under his”.
Follows a meditation where one sees Lucifer in action, how he tempts us to covet riches, honor, to end up filled with pride. Christ, on the other hand, attracts us to the highest degree of poverty, humility, and contempt (Sp.Ex. 136).
These meditations will continue during Advent, where I will be shown again and again how hard it is to follow Jesus Christ through the narrow gate of the cross.
I remember how I felt the call of Jesus in Manresa, the attraction of what he offered and asked me to do, how it was obvious that I had to die to myself — to rise again with him, maybe. (I am not so sure of what it means). But what a beautiful call it was and still is. How it sets my heart on fire and brings tears to my eyes.
Both thieves followed him on the cross, unwillingly, like so many of us. One joined Christ there and then; the other saw no point in doing so. Depending on my age, I could be one or the other.
My heart, mind, spirit, and soul want to join you, Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. If I make a SWOT analysis of my life, however, I find myself in a situation of comfort and safety that distances me from what I feel called, and I am not sure how to walk to and on your side…
I just see and feel and sense a bit of your reality, so foreign to what our world shows us as ‘paradise’. Your paradise, Beloved, your Kingdom, is service, justice, kindness, simplicity, contempt also, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the prisoners. The rest is mirage.
Here I am, Lord.
Art: Marc Chagall, White Crucifixion, 1938