Friday, November 18, 2011
PAYING ATTENTION TO CHRIST IN ACTION
|Fra Angelico's Painting "CHRIST THE JUDGE" from the Chapel of San Brizio|
Father Nicola Avancini S.J. in his great "Meditations"( properly "The Life and Teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ") takes up consideration of this incident in his meditation for Thursday of the 22nd Week After Pentecost. We know Christ is to Judge the whole world at His Second Coming as Fra Angelico's painting shows. How do we relate that fact to Our Lord's statement above? Let us follow Avancini:
"St.Jerome says : "Christ did not deign to act as a judge in a law- suit or as a controller of property". Why was this? Would it not have been a good thing to defend a man's rights or to reconcile brothers? Yes, but it was not the work Our Lord had come to do. As St.Ambrose says: "He declined to be involved in earthly things Who had descended to earth for heavenly things. Let us learn from this not to entangle ourselves in matters of business (we need to recall Avancini was writing for Religious T.D.) that are foreign to our vocation". He who has dedicated himself to God must make himself serviceable to God if he is to do his duty. "No man being a soldier to God, entangleth himself with secular businesses"( II Tim.III:4) Nor may we flatter ourselves with excuses of prudence or charity, for it is neither prudent nor charitable to do what lies outside our vocation."
Father Avancini makes his case powerfully for Religious, and it holds good for secular clergy as well , to be about the work of their vocation strictly understood. This self discipline and dedication is of course perfectly modelled in Our Lord Himself.
It is easy to get sidetracked in our thinking about Jesus into conforming our image of Him into something we find congenial - so, we get the Protestant "Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild"and it is not a far leap from there to the Hollywood idea that everyone is going to Heaven. Now, it is true Jesus said "Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart"(Matt. 11:29) in these words He instructed us in what our attitude should be and how we should comport ourselves in dealing with others. However, as Father Avancini shows His Divine Majesty was always effective and His concern strictly for the essentials of His Mission.
It is interesting to reflect that Our Lord never comments about Man's material achievements - to the Divine Saviour they are as nothing - even the Temple itself, as a building. When the disciples
seek to point out to Jesus the various aspects of the great structure( Matt 24:1), He is not concerned with what has been achieved, but immediately reveals to them that all of what they see and are impressed, by will be totally destroyed.
Jesus Christ the Saviour of Men is , in modern political parlance always "on Message"The Divine Will and Mission are ever apparent. "Meek and humble of heart" - yes. See Him before Caiaphas, insulted , struck, before Pilate largely silent until it is right to speak and Pilate is for a time open to learn. But Jesus Christ , Who said of Himself : ".......Before Abraham was, I AM"(John 8:58) and
"I AM the Way, and the Truth , and the Life"( John 14:6) always kept strictly to His Divine Mission, and the petty affairs of Men , and even what they thought were grand achievements were not significant to Him.
The task of progressively drawing His disciples on to the realisation of His Divinity was fundamental to Our Lord's Mission. For this purpose He worked miracles. But He would not be drawn into allowing His Divine Power to become a routine part of day-to-day life, which is what the materially pre-occupied petitioner was about.
We need to always keep our concentration on the realities of Jesus' Person and Activity if we are to truly know Him.