Consumed and Sustained

A friend of mine, some years ago, tried to solve what was a terrible mosquito problem in his backyard by purchasing one of those bug-zapping lights.  I’m sure you’re familiar with these things.  They glow with a light that bugs find irresistible, to the point that they get so close to it that they are consumed by its blazing heat.  My friend was very satisfied with his purchase until he decided to go away for a few weeks of vacation and forgot to unplug the light.  When he got back, he realized something was very wrong when he noticed a wretched stench emanating from his backyard.  There, he found his light, buzzing away, overflowing with the carcasses of various kinds of bugs who in their fit of suicidal madness plunged themselves into that glowing beacon of death.  And he said it stunk like you wouldn’t believe. 

Curiously, this incident came to mind when I read a meditation on the Feast of Corpus Christi written by St. Paul of the Cross, whose feast day we celebrate today.  He writes: “the feast of the Blessed Sacrament is the feast of love.  Oh, what great love!  What immense charity!  The moth is drawn to the light, and burns itself in it. May your soul likewise draw near to the divine Light!  May it be reduced to ashes in that sacred flame!” 

To draw near to Christ is to be consumed by His love for us.  But the consuming love of the Heart of Christ is obviously different than the destructive light of a bug-zapping lamp.  Although the Heart of God consumes those who approach Him, He simultaneously sustains with His grace those who love Him.  We see this dynamic in today’s gospel reading (Lk 12:35-38), in which Our Lord tells His disciples to always be prepared to receive the Lord when He comes.  “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.  Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.”  To be in the presence of the Lord is an overwhelming thing.  The power of a tsunami, the heat of the sun, are nothing compared to the reality of standing before Christ Jesus in the fullness of His glory.  Surely, then, we would be right to expect to be annihilated in the fires of His splendor if we were to approach Him.  But then the Lord Jesus tells His disciples something remarkable: “Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.”  Those who remain vigilant, who desire to cast themselves into the merciful love of the Heart of Christ, will find His gentleness there.  And the sweet fragrance of charity that emanates from the blessed whose hearts are consumed, yet sustained, by the love of God gives evidence to the goodness of Him who comes to us so that we might go to Him. 

posted 10/20/20

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