Resting on the heart of Jesus: Feast of St. John

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. John. It is a feast which I love because most of our spirituality comes from John’s Gospel, a Gospel which is powerfully symbolic and mystical. The symbolic is very close to the mystical, which goes beyond the everyday part of life and finds the presence of God everywhere and responds to it. In the transmission of our charism, our Founder Blessed James Alberione has presented us with various biblical icons as beacons which enlighten and guide us on our journey of discipleship.

On our Congregational emblem, we have engraved the verse from John 14:6: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’. Our whole itinerary of holiness is based on John 12:24: “Unless a grain of wheat dies, it remains a single grain”.  The figure of Jesus Master Way Truth and Life is the foundational icon of our Rule of life. He is the one who has chosen us first.  We allow ourselves to be seized by him in order to contemplate him and to follow him in the Paschal mystery (cf art. 7).  Chapters 13 to 17 of the Gospel of John present him as the Master and Servant who does not hesitate to wash the feet of his disciples, as the Saviour who offers himself entirely in becoming the bread that is broken and the blood shed for the redemption of humanity.  What does he ask of his disciples?  “as I have done, so you must do…remain in my love…bear much fruit…love one another…” (cf. Jn 13:15; 15:8-9.12).

The family of Bethany presented in the gospel narrative of John (11:1-44; 12:1-3) has always been dear to Fr. Alberione as the icon relevant to our charism, to the point of being inspired to write and present us with the Bethany Prayer (cf art 4). Again with the Johnannine inspiration we see how the Paschal Mystery enlightens our entire discipleship with an intense light (cf art. 7) and renders us apostles with the apostles (cf art. 9).  Like Mary Magdalene, we turn away from the empty tomb and recognize the risen Jesus at the sound of the Spouse’s voice: “Mary, Rabboni” (Jn 20:16). Only then does the Lord send us to announce his Resurrection to the apostles: “go and tell my brothers” (Jn 20:17).  Mary Magdalene, the disciple of Christ, shares her experience of life through her testimony: “I have seen the Lord” (Jn 20:18).

Today during the celebration of the Eucharist in our community, Fr. Justin in his homily reminded us how in the old rite of the Mass, at the time of the consecration the priest would lean over on the altar, almost as if he was leaning on the heart of Christ. This is a beautiful thought because the most powerful heartbeat of Christ is heard when we come and receive Him in the Eucharist and sit with Him in silent Adoration before his Eucharistic presence. St. Augustine tells us that “Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.” To enter God’s Heart, to rest on His heart, takes only a moment of quiet prayer. These moments will make a difference.

The first biography of a saint which I read was that of St. Faustina. Actually, it was her diary on Divine Mercy. I was about 17 years old and it really touched my soul and placed within me a deep desire for holiness. I was reminded of some of her thoughts during these days as we celebrate the great mystery of the Incarnation and the word becoming flesh. From the Christ Child, St. Faustina learned a most important lesson for her spiritual journey, the way of spiritual childhood. Several times the Infant Jesus appeared to her and taught her this lesson. For instance, she writes of what happened during Mass one day:

“... I saw the Infant Jesus near my kneeler. He appeared to be about one year old, and He asked me to take Him in my arms. When I did take Him in my arms, He cuddled up close to my heart  and said, "It is good for Me to be close to your heart. ... Because I want to teach you spiritual childhood. I want you to be very little, because when you are little, I carry you close to My Heart, just as you are holding Me close to your heart right now” (Diary, 1481).

The way of spiritual childhood, however, is not childish. It is not excessively sentimental or naive. Rather, it involves a total surrender to our heavenly Father's providential care — total abandonment of our own plans, opinions, and self-will, and radical trust in God. Dom Mark Kirby over at Vultus Christi speaks of it as being 'on pilgrimage to the heart of Christ' for this is a journey where the destination is not reached overnight but one where often it is one step at a time. So today...why not take some time out to simply rest on the heart of never know what you might hear!