March 16, 2017
Thus says the LORD:
Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a barren bush in the desert
that enjoys no change of season,
But stands in a lava waste,
a salt and empty earth.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose hope is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its roots to the stream:
It fears not the heat when it comes,
its leaves stay green;
In the year of drought it shows no distress,
but still bears fruit.
More tortuous than all else is the human heart,
beyond remedy; who can understand it?
I, the LORD, alone probe the mind
and test the heart,
To reward everyone according to his ways,
according to the merit of his deeds.
Today’s first reading reminded me of a talk I went to recently by Fr James Brent, OP. The lecture was on the wisdom of St Thomas Aquinas on the presence of God, and the witness of St Elizabeth of the Trinity on the same. Basically, St Thomas Aquinas posits three ways in which God is present to all creation – by His presence, by His power, and by His essence (for more information look it up porque yo no theologian) – and a fourth way in which He is present only to the souls of the just. This is His presence by indwelling, meaning presence in a personal and intimate way, a presence that invites the soul to relationship and exchange with God. He only dwells this way in souls that are in a state of grace – that is, without mortal sin and in friendship with God. Imagine the distinction between all of creation and one human soul in a state of grace. It’s not even between all of creation and the human being. No, the soul in a state of grace.
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – the recently canonized French Carmelite – lived this presence of God by indwelling in a deep way. She understood that the Lord has given Himself to her as a gift, and that He is active in her. Her prayer focused far more on the Lord’s contemplation of her than on her own contemplation of God. How keen are we to His dwelling in us? How open and engaged are we with Him in the deepest recesses of our minds, hearts, and souls? Lastly, how do we safeguard His presence in us by preserving our state of grace?
Because we’re human and fallen, we aren’t always that attentive to the Lord. Our physical, psychological, and emotional states preoccupy us and distract us from the presence of God in us. But somehow He always reminds us and invites us to pay closer to attention, to trust more, to Him more. I pray that we will always have the good sense to choose Him above all else so that He can continue to live in each of us in friendship.