The Lord so Great and Good




Centuries before the future Pope Benedict XVI was urging Christians to take seriously their reason for joy, St. Clare of Assisi was summoning her followers to imbue their lives with the joy which springs from faith in Christ.  In her first letter to Agnes of Prague, the Seraphic Mother wrote:  If so great and good a Lord, on coming into the Virgin’s womb, willed to appear despised, needy and poor in this world, so that men, who were in dire poverty and want and suffering great need of heavenly food, might be made rich in Him and possess the kingdom of heaven, do you rejoice and be glad, and be filled with exceeding gladness and joy of spirit!

The modern reader might be taken aback by this staggering sentence.  Yet, besides witnessing to Clare’s expertise in Latin, this sentence shows the breadth of her understanding of God’s plan of salvation, her deep knowledge of Scripture (with references from the Book of Hanukkah and from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians), and her unshakable faith in Jesus Christ as the source of human joy and fulfillment.

 But what is the heart of this Clarian admonition, which touches upon original sin (the dire poverty of man), the Incarnation (coming into the Virgin’s womb), the Eucharist (the heavenly food) and our final goal (possession of the kingdom of heaven)?

It is that JESUS, the LORD SO GREAT AND GOOD, willed to become the Redeemer of man.  With divine freedom He chose to appear despised, needy and poor, to suffer and to die on the Cross.  St. Clare could never ponder enough the greatness and the goodness of this Lord in His creating, redeeming, sustaining and sanctifying work. 

As each new liturgical year unfolds and the Church commemorates again the beginning of the story of divine greatness and goodness, St. Clare’s summons to exceeding gladness and joy of spirit is repeated.   Contemplating what Christ has done for us, we too have both a right and a duty to rejoice.  Even more, we have the privilege of allowing this Lord who is so great and good to live in us and to shine through us to a world waiting for the joy and hope that only God can give. 

During these past months, the Lady Clare has shown us how to BEHOLD JESUS, deeply, prayerfully, faithfully.  She has accompanied us as we looked with love upon Him who is

the Son of the Most High Father
 and of the glorious Virgin,
the Way and
the Perfection of the Holy Gospel,
our Most High Lord,
the Most Holy and Most Beloved Child,
who is Poor and Humble,
the Author of Salvation
who was Crucified for us Sinners,
the Beautiful One,
the Inflaming Love,
the Mirror and Lamb without Spot,
the Heavenly Spouse,
the Hidden Treasure,
the King of Glory, and


And all of us, BEHOLDING
the Lord’s glory with unveiled faces,
are being transformed from glory to glory
into His very image by the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18



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