Click here to read the latest newsletter.
Jesus came among us not primarily to establish easy-going human fellowship, the sort that produces warm feelings of acceptance and belonging; he came among us to redeem us from sin, an operation that cannot avoid inflicting pain. Friendship in the truth means never forgetting the ultimate goal of our life by basking in the enjoyable illusion of present security and mutual human support. Jesus can support us as our friend only insofar as his help moves our life toward his Father. The Son cannot collude with us in anything even vaguely approaching a conspiracy against the Father’s deepest will to save; if he did, he would stop being faithful Son, which is exactly what the actual Satan would have had him do during the temptations in the desert: “All these [kingdoms] I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
This quote, inspired by today’s gospel reading, is from a wonderful three volume work entitled Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, Meditations on St Matthew’s Gospel, by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, an American Cistercian monk. On my recent retreat, a nun of Minster Abbey introduced me to the work: after hearing my homilies, she thought his approach to scripture was similar to mine. If only I could rise to his level!