Comforted [1]

The need to do something, to alleviate the suffering, to comfort those in the midst of pain… For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ [Mt 25: 35-6] [2]

On impulse. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.[1Jn 4:18] In spite of the soldiers, she rushes to Him, takes her veil and wipes His face. The soldiers thrust her aside and prod Jesus on.

She did so little, but she received so much. Whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”[Mt 10:42] She had no water but she gave her veil off her own head,…and received a reward.

That she received an imprint of his face on her veil is a matter of legend.  That anyone who helps another for the sake of Christ receives a reward is a matter of faith and justice. Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me. [Mt 25:40] Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.[Mt 10:32]

What of my image? “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust...So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. [Mt 5:43-45,48][3]

If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. [Mt 19:21]  What a standard…even the Apostles complained about this one: When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” [Mt 19:25-26]  Ignatius cut through the conundrum with “active indifference:”“Indifference is a distance from things that allows a person to freely choose ‘without prejudice.’  It is a distance from things that makes true vision possible.  Ignatius is asking everyone to love themselves and all things as coming from God.  Yet each is to “stand apart” from all created things in an inner freedom which awaits God’s desire and invitation.”[4]

Jesus asks love. If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. [1Jn 4:20]

Father, you gave Veronica Jesus’ image for wiping His face.  Help me, Father, to see His face in every person I meet today and to wipe away their tears.  Amen.

[1] Her name is from the Latin phrase vera icon meaning “true image”. According to legend, the veil bore the likeness of the face of Jesus not made by human hand, and, though lost, the tradition reminds me of Mary’s imprinting her image of the cloak of Juan Diego which is displayed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the most visited Marian shrine in the world.

[2] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[3] Luke equates perfection with mercy. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as [also] your Father is merciful. [Lk 6:35-36]  Thomas views mercy as removing defects; it is what is given over and above justice; it is the overflow of God’s goodness beyond what is “due,” as if we had anything “due” us. [ST I, q. 21, a. 3,4] Thus, one can view all creation, all that we have, all that we are, everything as a manifestation of God’s mercy.  Thus, the true meaning of the Publican’s prayer takes on enormous depth: “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” [Lk 18:13]

[4] John J. Callahan, S.J., Discovering a Sacred World: Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises And Its Influence on Education, Heartland III, May 22-25, 2000, Creighton, University, http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/Heartland3/r-discovering.html; see also the 3rd Class of Men, The Spiritual Exercises, “The third want to rid themselves of the attachment, but want so to rid themselves of it that they have even no liking for it, to keep the thing acquired or not to keep it, but only want to want it or not want it according as God our Lord will put in their will and as will appear to them better for the service and praise of His Divine Majesty; and meanwhile they want to reckon that they quit it all in attachment, forcing themselves not to want that or any other thing, unless only the service of God our Lord move them: so that the desire of being better able to serve God our Lord moves them to take the thing or leave it.” Ignatius Loyola, Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Trans. Fr. Elder Mullan, S.J. (New York, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1914), Christian Classics Ethereal Library, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/ignatius/exercises.xiii.vi.html

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