Saturday, 14 December 2013

Second week of advent: traveling with a wise man

 It is fitting that at this stage in Advent, we read in the mass on Wednesday in the second week of Advent the lines from Matthew 11: 28- 30

Come to me, all you who labour and are overburden, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light’. 

This passage concludes a chapter that deals with how un-teachable the chosen people have been.  They refused to listen to John the Baptist, and they will refuse to listen to him.

To what should I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces who call out to one another,  ‘We played the flute for you, yet you did not dance; we wailed in mourning, yet you did not weep.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” Then Jesus began to criticize openly the cities in which he had done many of his miracles, because they did not repent. ..At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed them to little children.  Yes, Father, for this was your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him. (Matthew, 11: 16-27)

Jesus says, however, that if they want to know the Father, they should learn from his heart.  Why because, as the Litany says: the Heart of Jesus, [is] united substantially with the word of God. The Heart of Jesus, [is] the holy temple of God.  The Heart of Jesus, [is ] tabernacle of the Most High. It is  the  house of God and gate of heaven;  the  glowing furnace of charity, the vessel of justice and love;  it is the  full of goodness and love.    The Heart of Jesus, is an abyss of all virtues,  and most worthy of all praise; it is   king and center of all hearts.  Within the heart of Jesus are  are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

By learning from the heart of Jesus we can begin to understand  fullness of the Divinity which became flesh in the womb of Mary.

At Christmas we celebrate the moment when God ‘s word and wisdom became flesh: when a  Divine heart beat in Mary’s womb alongside a human heart.  We celebrate  God with us – our Emmanuel.   In seeking to journey to Bethlehem this year I have been travelling with a wise man – Dietrich Von Hildebrand (HERE) (1889 - 1977)  - whose work on the Sacred Heart has been rather neglected, but which is well worth reading.  Perhaps, given his opposition to Teilhard and his view that Teilhard did a lot of damage to the Catholic Church,  Hildebrand  is a rather odd companion for me. However, his book on the Sacred  Heart is, I believe, a truly inspiring work.  I am not convinced by his criticisms of Teilhard, but I am thankful for his book ( The Heart : An Analysis of Human and Divine Affectivity, St. Augustine press, 2007, first published 1965).

If, like the shepherds and the wise men,  we are to wonder at the mystery of the incarnation on Christmas day, we should, as Jesus tells, us learn from his heart.  Von Hilderbrand’s book  can help our understanding of that great mystery.

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