Posted by: fvbcdm | December 14, 2011

Feast of Saint John of the Cross (14 Dec 2011)

Our superior here in this priory provided a supply of Christmas cards for us to send to relatives and friends.  One of the most appealing ones is a fairly simple one, showing a huge lion and a newborn lamb lying together, the lamb cozily protected between the paws of the lion.  It is, of course, based upon a passage from the prophet Isaiah, chapter eleven, in which natural enemies are portrayed as friends and close associates: the wolf and the lamb, the leopard with the baby goat, the calf and the young lion, the cow and the bear, the human baby and the cobra, the human child and the adder.

This card is not one based upon the sumptuous masterpieces of art showing Our Lady kneeling in adoration of her own infant son, nor the gorgeous magi with their laden camels coming to pay homage to the newborn king of the Jews.  Just a sleeping lion, and a perfectly relaxed lamb beside it, not at all concerned about its safety.  

We can meditate on this concept of natural enemies becoming close friends in the kingdom of the Messiah.  But we can also ask ourselves whether we, because of our pride or selfishness or greed, might not become the lion or the wolf or the cobra in relation to smaller, weaker animals who cannot defend themselves.  This reminds me of one of my favorite stories in which the defenseless turned out to be not so defenseless after all, and tamed the big bad wolf.  I was in college, working at night and during the summers in Touro Infirmary, a large hospital near my home in New Orleans.  One of the doctors there was a terribly gruff, disagreeable man who lorded it over everyone and terrified all the young interns and student nurses who were assigned to work with him.  However, there was an operating room nurse who had been around quite a while, and was not intimidated by the old geezer.  One day, during surgery, she was giving some instructions very softly to some of the student nurses, which she had a perfect right to do even though a big sign on the wall said SILENCE.  The cruel doctor stopped what he was doing, looked at her in fury, and, pointing to the sign, yelled at her, “What does that say?”  Very calmly and not a bit frightened, she looked at the sign and then back at him, and replied, “Can’t you read?”  He had no answer for that, but never yelled at her again. 

As we approach the feast of Christmas, let’s examine our consciences on the matter of kindness, gentleness, helpfulness and their contraries: cruelty, arrogance, rudeness. We might come to some surprising conclusions.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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