October 22, 2015
“But who is then this Invisible Lover who died upon a gibbet nineteen centuries ago, and who thus draws to himself youth, beauty, and love? Who appears to souls with a splendor and fascination which they cannot resist?” – quotation from Charles Montalembert written on a holy card that Louis Martin kept in his missal
“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness. He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted...” –Saint John Paul II
Last year, I wrote my first-ever meditation for Frassati on this same Thursday of the twenty-ninth week in Ordinary Time. I read the meditation again just now to see if there was anything I had written that I could repurpose or recycle (because writer’s block). What happened when I read the reflection is that I was almost shocked at how differently I read the Gospel reading today from how I read it one year ago. Last year, Jesus’ words about how He came “to set the earth on fire” and how He wished “it were already blazing” seemed pretty fire-and-brimstone-y to me. They spoke to the divisive capability of the Gospel truths when we’re up against those who disagree with them or with the people who proclaim them.
This time around, I couldn’t help but pause and reread these words before moving on to the rest of the Gospel passage. It is perhaps because of this that they sounded so much more tender* than they ever had. I heard in them Jesus’ desire for our hearts to burn for Him. How sweet and how sad is the thought of Jesus lamenting that the earth is not yet ardently yearning for Him, not yet burning with desire for His love?
I read Montalembert’s words that Louis Martin kept in his missal earlier this month in an article about the canonization of St Thérèse’s parents. They have sat at the forefront of my mind and have colored my thought and prayer for weeks. I think St John Paul II, whose feast we celebrate today, wrote the perfect response to them. They are the perfect response, too, to the world’s advice to “Follow your heart” and “Do what you love” and other relatively meaningless sound bites posing as they key to happiness.
Today’s Gospel, the life of St John Paul II, the life of the Martin family, and the lives of all the saints, show us the true key to happiness eternal: to follow Hisheart, to do what He loves. With each small yes to Jesus’ splendid and fascinating appeal to the soul of His beloved, the Holy Spirit can fan the flame of our Baptismal promises, of God’s life in us, into an all-consuming fire of love. Let us readily receive His graces and let him set the world ablaze!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, increase our love for You!
St John Paul II, pray for us!
Sts Louis and Zélie Martin, pray for us!
Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us!