Friday, February 07, 2014

Afternoon meditation: The big question

John the Baptist, from Santa Maria
sopra Minerva, Rome (school of
Today's two readings each look back in admiration on a great man of God. As different as the lusty king and the ascetic prophet seem to be from one another, as different as their lifestyles between the palace and the desert, the Gospel of Luke tells us how similar they really were. It was David who "leapt with joy" as the Ark of the Covenant was carried into Jerusalem, while the unborn John the Baptist leapt with joy (same verb, and clearly a deliberate evocation of David's story) at the arrival of the pregnant Mary and her Son.

Maybe that is why I could play with the Gospel of John's martyrdom today. You see, Herod invited his daughter (that is how the lectionary has it) to ask for anything whatever and it would be granted. She went to her mother for advice, and we know how that turned out. But our King, Jesus, has been known to make the same offer. For example, to Thomas Aquinas: "You have written well of me, Thomas. What do you want in return?"

What would I reply? Taking a cue from today's Gospel, I went to my mother, Mary. "What should I ask for?"

The answer surprised me.

"The heart of John the Baptizer."

If I needed more of an explanation, I only had to go to the first reading where, mutatis mutandae, the description of David fits: "with his whole being he loved his Maker."

Here's an interesting exercise: Pray Psalm 45 in the spirit of John the Baptist, knowing that it is he who first identified Christ as "the Bridegroom."

No comments: