When I last posted here back in May I noted my surprise I had not written about the LITTLE MANDATE since the feast of St. Joseph. Little did I know that within the week I would be taken seriously ill – not Covid thanks be to God – and would be hospitalized for several weeks. Now back in poustinia and recovering, time to resume writing.
Immediately after the directive about poverty the next directive in the Little Mandate is: Take up My cross (their cross) and follow Me,…… 
What easily springs to mind and heart here are the words of Jesus describing the last judgement, [Mt. 25: 31-46], which is both His revelation of identification with the poor, the needy, and His telling us that if we wish to touch Him, love Him, serve Him, we do so by loving, serving, touching our brothers and sisters.
Jesus should be everything to you: the object of all your desires, the reason behind all of your decisions, the motivation of all your emotions, and the model for all your actions. 
Because we are His and He is our Beloved we love our brothers and sisters – every human being, even enemies, is a brother, a sister – and we express this love by all the acts of love mentioned in Matthew 25:31 ff. and also, as St. Paul instructs us: Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. [Gal.6:2], thus ‘Take up My cross [their cross] and follow Me…..’
There is a pious tradition that before being cast into hell satan was shown the Holy Infant, the Incarnate One, and as that vile creature satan watched myriads of Angels love, adore, serve the Holy Child satan screamed: non serviam ~ I will not serve.
Christ the King reigns by serving, and only those will inherit the Kingdom who allow the lifeblood of the Kingdom – sacrificial service – to flow effectively through their own veins. 
The lifeblood of the Kingdom, when we open wide the door of our being to Christ, flows into us as that fire Christ sows within us and all creation [cf. Lk. 12:49] and this fire-lifeblood permeating our beings is transformative, transforming us from self-servers to, in imitation of and in union with Christ, true servants of everyone, true burden-bearers, true Simons of Cyrene.
In the fourth sorrowful mystery of the Rosary we try to see the whole of the Lord’s via dolorosa from one viewpoint only: Jesus burdened with the cross…….on His shoulders the full weight of the cross!......A weight under which He falls. His persecutors…..have to find someone to help Him…..[4a] We are called through Baptism to answer the call. It is a matter of embracing the gift of being beloved and of loving as Christ does. Love not only uplifts us, takes us out of ourselves, it also lays burdens on us. [4b] Taking up the cross of the poor, Christ’s cross, is love’s burden.
It is highly unlikely we can live out this line of the Little Mandate, with any modicum of peace and joy, unless we humbly accept the reality of our own cross, keeping in mind and heart, with gratitude, that since we are all poor, that is all in need of one another, through and with Christ someone[s] is/are helping us carry our cross. The cross is made up of our weaknesses and failings; it is constructed by our enthusiastic impulses and especially by the dark depths of our heart where a secret resistance and a shameful ugliness lurk, by all that complexity which is at this precise moment, the authentic I. “Love your neighbour as yourself,” allows a certain love of self. It is a call to love our cross. It means perhaps the most difficult act of all – to accept ourselves as we are.  Such humble self acceptance enables acceptance of others as they are.
The joy of dwelling peacefully in faith, love, hope, light, joy while taking up the cross of Christ, the cross of the poor and following Jesus wherever He goes is that: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. [Rms.8:28]
These words of St. Paul point to Jesus’ teaching: “…..the kingdom of God is within you.” [Lk. 17:21] Some translations have it as ‘among you’ or ‘in your midst’. The kingdom experienced on earth is the spiritual reality of the abundance of divine life gifted within us [cf.Jn.10:10] and the fullness of divine joy [cf. Jn.15:11] If we open our hearts to Jesus, Jesus of the poor, of everyone, then the fullness of the kingdom, when He knocks and we welcome Him into the depths of our being, transforms the restless, lonely “I” into the communal “WE”, with Him, the Father, the Holy Spirit, all human beings, and in that moment we will begin to hear, deep within ourselves the music of Divine Silence, the symphony of Divine Love pouring into us, an aspect of the living water designed to flow from our hearts into the hearts of everyone, and all this music, the music of Divine Light and Life we shall hear flowing towards and from all creation, flowing from the movement of the planets, the winds and gentle breezes, singing of birds, the sound of the swaying dance of trees and grasses, fields of wheat and bubbling brooks, the giggling of the Newborn Child in the manger, the radiant icons of God: every child, man, woman, like gentle flickering votive lamps, a kingdom so alive, active, gentle in its power that yes it causes all tears to shimmer like diamonds, the cries of humans in pain and desolation to be heard carried in the hands of Angels to the very throne of God, piercing the heavens opened by the piercing of His Sacred Heart, while the love of spouses for each other, of parents for their children, of grandparents for future generations, is an ode to joy and love blending with the sound of choirs in great cathedrals, blending with the voices of men, women, children in the smallest and poorest of Churches, as the words of priests from the Pope to the just ordained “This IS My Body, this IS My Blood…..” reverberate to the ends of the cosmos as the music of love, hope, redemption, to hear all this is to experience The Kingdom of God is within you….as hearing the beating heart of the Gospel. 
 THE ROAD OF HOPE, a gospel from prison; Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan; p. 70, #235; 2018 Wellspring
 FIRE OF MERCY HEART OF THE WORLD; Volume III, Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis; p. 615; Ignatius Press; 2012
[4a] SIGN OF CONTRADICTION, by Karol Wojtyla/Pope John Paul II; p.77; St. Paul Publications
[4b] op. cit. p. 78
 From: THE STRUGGLE WITH GOD, Paul Evdokimov, p. 59; Paulist Press 1966
 Inspired by these words of Paul Evdokimov: “The Kingdom of God is within you.” The beating heart of the Gospel can be heard in these words.
© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph
Post a Comment