Behold Him

Part 2

Son of the Most High Father

            An eminent Churchman was once asked what he thought was the touchstone of Pope John Paul II’s spirituality.  Without a moment’s hesitation he replied: For John Paul, Jesus is ALIVE.

            What the 20th century Cardinal said of the Great Pope could easily have been said of St. Clare by her 13th century contemporaries when they assessed her spirituality:  For Clare, Jesus is ALIVE.

            When the Seraphic Mother congratulates St. Agnes of Prague on having merited to be called a sister, spouse and mother of the Son of the Most High Father, she writes of One whom she knew as a real, living, divine Person.  For St. Clare, Jesus was not a figure from the distant past.  He was  the One who, for our sake (for her sake), became flesh, suffered, died, and rose, who was faithfully fulfilling His promise to be with us (to be with her) ALWAYS.

            When St. Clare writes of JESUS as THE SON OF THE MOST HIGH FATHER, she sets her reader at the heart of divine revelation:  He will be great, and will be called SON OF THE MOST HIGH. (Luke 1:32)   This is the first point to which Clarian beholding invites us: look to the Scriptures to learn about Christ.  Clare’s form of life was to observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. All that our Lord said, did and taught in the Gospels, all that the Old Testament foretold of Him and all that the New Testament proclaimed about Him was precious to her. Her prayer was wholly imbued with the fragrance of Sacred Scripture.

            There is a second step on this Clarian path of beholding Christ.  When St. Clare referred to JESUS as SON OF THE MOST HIGH FATHER, she did so enlightened and fortified by the teachings of His Church.  In faith, she  beheld Christ in the mystery of His relationship with the Almighty Father:

         God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God. Thus she shows us that doctrine does not dampen or diminish devotion. Rather, true doctrine purifies and deepens devotion.  It guards prayer from falling into mere sentimentality and sets it on the bedrock of truth.

            St. Clare’s referring to JESUS as THE SON OF THE MOST HIGH FATHER also invites us to focus on our Lord in a deeply Franciscan mode. St. Francis himself was a great contemplative, and the appellation “Most High” often appears in his writings.  For Francis, this name summarized God’s greatness, His goodness, His transcendence, His holiness.  It summoned Francis to awe, reverence and wonder in the divine presence.  Recognizing and beholding JESUS as THE SON OF THE MOST HIGH FATHER deepens our own awe, reverence and wonder before the mystery of the Incarnation.

May you love totally Him
who gave Himself totally for your love.

This is the Seraphic Mother’s final summons to those who have joined her in beholding JESUS, THE SON OF THE MOST HIGH FATHER.   Imbued with the Scriptures, informed by the teachings of the Church, and penetrated by the spirit of St. Francis, Clare knew the love of Him on whom she gazed.  She invites us to continue contemplating this Lord

whose beauty the sun and moon admire,
and of whose gifts there is no limit
in preciousness and greatness.
I speak of Him who is
THE SON OF THE MOST HIGH.

 

Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy
300 North 60th Street
Belleville , Illinois   62223-3927   U.S.A.
www.poorclares-belleville.info

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