Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Nearer and Greater
Teresa of Avila came to focus so on Jesus that she is called Teresa of Jesus. She was not always able to focus on Jesus. As she said in her autobiography:
I used to labour with all my might to imagine Jesus Christ, our Good and our Lord, present within me. ...[but] God never endowed me with the gift of making reflections with the understanding, or with that of using the imagination to any good purpose: my imagination is so sluggish, that even if I would think of, or picture to myself, as I used to labour to picture, our Lord's Humanity, I never could do it./1/Later in her life Teresa came upon a picture of Christ suffering, and that image moved her. She was no stranger to suffering, which is why it moved her so. As she said:
This was my method of prayer: as I could not make reflections with my understanding, I contrived to picture Christ as within me; and I used to find myself the better for thinking of those mysteries of His life during which He was most lonely. It seemed to me that the being alone and afflicted, like a person in trouble, must needs permit me to come near unto Him./2/The difficulties in praying, which saints knew well, encourage us in our difficulties. Jesus, we heard last week, is the stronger one. Today we heard him say he was greater than the prophet Jonah and the wise king Solomon. Whatever image helps us to pray, to draw closer to Jesus, to deepen our relationship with him, Jesus is always greater. When we are aware of that, then like St. Teresa, we are moved to draw nearer. Plus, we allow Jesus to shape us into more effective witnesses of him and his gospel.
/1/ Life of St. Teresa of Jesus, Chapter 4. 10.
/2/ Ibid., Chapter 9. 4.
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