Clergy View: Do not squander the opportunity to mine the riches of Christ
Every one of us is called to a rich, mystical life — intimate communion with the God who is love.
When will it be over? We have all been aching for an end to sickness, strife and social distancing. Even though vaccines and freedom are on the horizon, we don’t know how long it will be until the day is full. Meanwhile we journey through Advent — a season in which we squint to see light amidst the darkness. As we might feel the walls of isolation pressing in on us, is there more we can do than white knuckling through the day we get our shots?
Perhaps it is not for nothing that baby Jesus chose to be found, due to the government mandate of Caesar’s census, crammed into a cave in Bethlehem. If we feel our walls are closing in on us, perhaps we could imagine we are ensconced in another type of enclosure. This enclosure also conceals the hidden joys of Jesus. We are entering an underground mine, uncomfortable but full of treasures. As St. John of the Cross teaches, Christ Jesus “is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides. For this reason, the apostle Paul said: In him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God.”
The trick? “The soul cannot enter into these treasures, nor attain them, unless it first crosses into and enters the thicket of suffering. … Would that we might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there, its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross.”
As much as I hope this time of suffering comes to an end, I hope we do not squander the opportunity to mine the riches of Christ. Every one of us is called to a rich, mystical life — intimate communion with the God who is love. He is indeed the source and fulfillment of all our longings. He desires to dwell in our hearts in all richness. Even as we ache for more human contact, the Lord does not leave us desolate. The riches of his heart are ready.
How might we mine these riches? We could open the Psalms or Gospels and meditate. The iBreviary app provides rich Scriptural prayer for morning, noon and night. When the flame of love or desire is fanned in your heart, pause and savor it. If a phrase sparks an insight, reflect on its richness. Meditate, too, on the ways the Lord has blessed you, and offer praise and thanks. Then, “according to the riches of his glory may Christ grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit … to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:16-19). As the solitude presses in, pull out the pick axe of prayer. Treasures of wisdom and love await you.