Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Heart Of The Gospel. Part 15.

By Francis Patrick Donnelly

"Behold I come" was the swift reply of God the Son to the call of His Father. "Sacrifices and oblations and holocausts for sin thou wouldst not," wrote the Psalmist and St. Paul of our Lord; "then said I, 'Behold I come, to do Thy will, O God.'" That cry of promptness created the Heart of Christ. Its first beat was an echo of that generous offering. The Heart of Christ, then, will lend wings to the slow of heart.

Yet it may be urged that the Heart of Christ had the vision of the Father, and so had the inexhaustible wealth of charity, but had not the virtue of faith. Very true it is "that we see now through a glass in a dark manner," but Christ "face to face." He had not the difficulty of obscurity that vexes our hearts in faith, but He had such a consuming fire of love and obedience as would have swept off in its rapidity a thousand greater difficulties, had they come into His way. It is no reproach to the sun that its splendor is not dimmed by the smoking wick which impedes the flame of the candle. Christ had all the excellence of faith in the perfection, the promptness, the generous completeness of His surrender to the will of the Father. "Behold I come."

Witness how all through life Christ was prompt in the face of obstacles which usually make us slow of heart to believe. If faith calls upon us to make what might be termed a plunge into the dark, although faith is rather a lifting on high in a flawless, unfailing and unfailing vessel of Heaven, but if faith is fancied to be a plunge, then the Heart of Christ plunged from above down to the nothingness of man. When the lights and music, were attractive at Bethlehem, His Heart passed rather into the darkness of the cave and the lowliness of the manger. No unholy love could taint His Heart or make it slow to respond when God's voice spoke, but the perfect tenderness of His pure love for His Mother made the promptness of His sacrifice more keenly felt when He left her to be about the business of His Father in the temple of Jerusalem or throughout the lands of Judea and Galilee. No sinful imagination would soil Him with seductive prospects, but His Heart was not slow when the more piercing vision of His mind brought before Him and upon Him the weight of all mankind's iniquity. There was, it is true, a struggle, a resistance unto blood to comfort us when the weight of passion oppresses our weakness. There was a struggle that printed itself in blood-red letters for our reading. Yet the heart was true, was prompt when the test finally came. "Behold I come to do Thy Will, O God"; "not My will but Thine be done." So, finally, in the last dark moments of Christ's life, when a heavier weight than sin fell upon His Heart, there was the same promptness, and the Heart which cried out as though God had forsaken It, shook off, if we may so speak, the slowness' that dark desolation would have put upon It, and confidently and peacefully commended Itself to the Father's hands, a short while before the hands of men laid open with a spear that treasure-house of quick, generous love.

The heart of man, which is slow to believe, is quick as water to glide into various easy ways of unbelief. It is sorely in need * of that steadying principle which swayed the Heart of Christ. What a restless creature is the wave of the sea! Who can balance one drop of water upon another? Who, then, can keep a million jostling, smooth, slipping, tiny crystal spheres quiet for the briefest fraction of a moment? And then the air, with its multitude of shifting particles ever in ceaseless agitation—who can keep all that in rest when the lifting of an eyelash will disturb it? Now, bring the fickle air out over the waters and let it play upon that liquid restlessness, and you have a wave of the sea. St. James took that wave as the type of a heart without faith. "Let them ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, which is moved and carried about by the winds." The heart of man is no calmer than the surface of the sea. Over it sweeps a host of feelings which keep it ever surging hither and thither and forever pausing upon the verge of some new direction. Sorrows and delights, fears and encouragements, hates, resentments and angers, attractions, infatuations and passions, whirl like shifting winds over the heart.

However, what tames the unstable wave and makes it sway in one direction will give also steadiness to the heart—a principle from on high. Far off in the sky, the moon swings around in a circle and the great ocean moves obedient to its mighty power. The promptness of faith or love will make the unquiet currents of the heart docile and steady and quickly responsive. Loving obedience to the will of the Father made the Heart of Christ swift to hearken and act, and trusting obedience to the voice of God will prevent our infinitely weaker hearts from being slow to believe and act when a thousand agitations would swerve us from the right. The Heart of Christ is a spur to the slow of heart.