TAKE COURAGE TO BEGIN THI SYEAR WITH JOHN OF THE CROSS 3

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Church built on the home of John of the Cross in Fontiveros

When undertaking our spiritual journey with John of the Cross we must not feel burdened by thoughts of the impossibility of making even the first steps. We are not struggling to move forward step by step. Rather we must be aware that God is drawing us to divine life. So, John urges us to have an attitude of confident response, for “God is the principal agent in this matter, and . . . acts as the blind man’s guide who must lead it by the hand to the place it does not know how to reach” (F. 3.29). The primary activity for us who seek God is not to place any obstacles in the way of God’s work of drawing us to union in love. So, this year, as we reflect on John’s call and challenges, let us take courage. Our responsibility includes letting God draw us in small steps, never allowing ourselves to go back, never overdoing it at first—just moving steadily and consistently in the one direction that matters. In these efforts, John can be our guide. “Our goal will be, with God’s help, to explain all these points, so that everyone who reads this book will in some way discover the road that they are walking along” (A. Prologue.7).

1. We all know that beginnings are always hard.
2. We have probably tried before and not done too well. Let us just move slowly, peacefully, confidently, step by step.
3. Teresa of Avila spoke about making this journey with “a determined determination.”
4. Let us pray for perseverance in sticking with this commitment to journey with John for a year.

CHALLENGES FOR TODAY
• Half-hearted responses will not help you on this journey.
• Remember Jesus’ stories about a man who started to build a tower and couldn’t finish it, and a king who started a war and couldn’t get organized. Make sure you desire to finish a job that you want to start.

• Pray for others who begin this journey with John in these readings and reflections.

 

 

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John of the Cross–A Prophet of God

We often mistakenly think a prophet speaks about the future, but this function is minor and accidental to the prophet’s main task. The word “prophet” comes from Greek and means to speak on behalf of God. A prophet challenges people to live in the present according to the values of God, and surely there are few people to whom this applies more than John of the Cross. The influences on his life are at times unusual, but he pursues his goal of union with God in love no matter the circumstances. At times his is a voice in the wilderness proclaiming the wonders of God and calling us all to faithfully pursue transformative union even through the nights of life.

John lived with many people who had a wrong set of values. Whether they were political leaders who saw greatness in expansionism, wars, power, and wealth, or religious leaders forcing conversions, controlling other people’s belief, and imposing their own views on others. Likewise the social caste system stressed wealth, status, bloodlines as important aspects of life. John lived with people who were attached to the structures that gave them power and prestige. John understood how useless it was to force belief systems on people who did not want them. All around him he saw people creating God in their own image and likeness, unwilling to let go and let God be a transforming presence in their lives. A prophet condemns such warped views of humanity and challenges us to follow God, for faith needs to be a loving self-gift

John was poor in spirit, or even more, poor with spirit. He loved being poor and appreciated how this could lead to greatness. He lived peacefully in spite of religious corruption all around him. In fact, he always lived with love for the Church with its awkwardness and with its graciousness. He knew that even bad situations have potentiality for good, and he sought such goodness amidst the horrors inflicted on him. It is amazing how John kept focused on his goals of union with God no matter the circumstances around him. But, he was practical too, and knew when enough is enough; so he knew when it was time to escape from the prison that the religiously arrogant had created for him.

The Tomb of John of the Cross in Segovia

As a prophet of God, John above all told us how to see God’s love everywhere, in nature, in people, and even in oppressors. John appreciated his own enduring purpose in life, his own destiny. He yearned for transformation in loving union with God. John pursued spiritual growth but never selfishly, rather always with a sensitivity and compassion towards everyone he met. He was not a lonely mystic in selfish pursuit of perfection. He was a man for others; enjoying others’ company, facilitating their growth, and seeking whatever was best for them. More than anything, this prophet lived his life aware of a realm of life beyond this one that gave meaning to this one. No matter the situations of his day and the nights he had to live, John speaks of God and reminds us the nights might be dark, but they can be guiding, transforming, and beautiful.