Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I Will Restore (My Bride)

December 14, 2010
Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church

By Beth DeCristofaro

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“What is your opinion? 
A man had two sons. 
He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 
The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’
but afterwards he changed his mind and went.
 The man came to the other son and gave the same order. 
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. 
Which of the two did his father’s will?” 
They answered, “The first.” (Matthew 21:28-31)

The Incarnation
(from The Romances)

Now that the time had come
when it would be good
to ransom the bride
serving under the hard yoke
of that law
which Moses had given her,
the Father, with tender love,
spoke in this way:
"Now you see, Son, that your bride
was made in your image,
and so far as she is like you
she will suit you well;
yet she is different, in her flesh,
which your simple being does not have.
In perfect love
this law holds:
that the lover become
like the one he loves;
for the greater their likeness
the greater their delight.
Surely your bride's delight
would greatly increase
were she to see you like her,
in her own flesh."
"My will is yours,"
the Son replied,
"and my glory is
that your will be mine.
This is fitting, Father,
what you, the Most High, say;
for in this way
your goodness will be more
your great power will be seen
and your justice and wisdom.
I will go and tell the world,
spreading the word
of your beauty and sweetness
and of your sovereignty.
I will go seek my bride
and take upon myself
her weariness and labors
in which she suffers so;
and that she may have life,
I will die for her,
and lifting her out of that deep,
I will restore her to you."
St. John of the Cross

Which of the two sons did his father’s will? Jesus asks. I’ve been each of these sons in my life. I’ve also been the onlooker – criticizing. Isaiah and Zephaniah have been telling us that God requires us to do God’s will, not stand and criticize. But these prophets also bring the awesome truth that God’s forgiveness, mercy and love for we critical, recalcitrant, resistant, lying and deceitful people is greater, unlimited and available. In an old hymn the lyrics speak of “me” choosing not to follow Him, yet the Shepherd comes after me and gently puts me on His shoulders to bring me home. God offers more than I deserve.

John of the Cross in his lyrical, breath taking poetry attempted to capture this mystery. God loves the bride and gave the bride to the Son but also fashioned the incredible mystery that the Son becomes as the bride. When I attempt in some small way to understand this, I ask myself, how can I say “no” to the Father? And I can be only joyful that when I next say “no” or do nothing just like the sons in Jesus’ parable, God’s infinite forgiveness and welcome is there for me.

I say “no” in so many ways. I say “yes” but do not follow through. How am I not evangelizing my environment? In what ways is my model not Christ-like? Jesus took the time to look up the tree and invite the sinner, Zacchaeus down to join him in readings last week. Who am I inviting to join me in the work of the Lord? Where is my joy and anticipation as the bride, beloved of God?