A Well-Ordered Soul

September 30, 2023
Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor—Memorial

“Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.  Luke 9:44–45

This is the second time that Jesus predicts His coming passion to His Apostles. After telling them that He will be handed over, the Gospel relates that “they did not understand this saying.” It also states that “they were afraid to ask him about this saying.” Why did they not understand, and why were they afraid to ask Jesus about His coming passion?

The Apostles were deeply attached to our Lord, both on a spiritual level and also through their affections. And this is good. But sometimes our affections can cloud our thinking and make it difficult to understand the deeper spiritual realities in life. Though our affections are natural, they must always be directed by the will of God. For example, if we were to try to understand Jesus’ affections, we’d have to conclude that He both spiritually and affectionately desired to lay down His life for the salvation of souls in accord with the will of the Father. He not only chose this with His will, but He also desired it in His affections, because His affections were perfectly ordered.

The Apostles, however, were unable to understand that Jesus had to lay down His life, be rejected, suffer and die, in part because they were very attached to Jesus in an emotional and affectionate way. So in this instance, their human love and attachment to Jesus hindered their ability to understand the greater spiritual good of Jesus laying down His life.

Consider, also, our Blessed Mother. How would she have reacted to Jesus saying that He had to be handed over, be rejected, suffer and die? Though this would have grieved her with a holy sorrow, the perfection of her human nature would have led her to not only understand and accept this deep spiritual truth, but she would have also desired this to happen within her affections because she perfectly desired the fulfillment of the will of the Father. There would have been no conflict within her between the will of the Father and what she desired.

In our own lives, we will often tend to struggle in the same way that the Apostles struggled. When faced with some challenging cross in life, a cross that the Father calls us to embrace freely, we will often find that our affections resist. When this happens, we become confused and even fearful of the future. Thus, the only way to conquer fear is to work to surrender every emotion, every affection and every human attachment over to the will of the Father so that His will is all we desire with every power of our soul.

Reflect, today, upon the interior struggle of these Apostles as they came face-to-face with this the second time Jesus began to prepare them to accept, understand, choose and desire His passion. Consider the interior struggle they went through at that time and even as they saw this unfold. Eventually they understood. Eventually all fear vanished. And eventually they affectionately rejoiced in Jesus’ sacrifice. But it took much time and much surrender. Reflect upon those ways our Lord is inviting you to choose His Cross in your life. Where you see your affections resisting, try to surrender, pray for understanding and seek the courage you need to desire His Cross with all your soul.

My revealing Lord, You opened Your divine heart to Your Apostles and invited them to understand and choose Your suffering and death. And though they hesitated and struggled, You continued to invite them to embrace the Father’s will. Give me the grace I need, dear Lord, to embrace every spiritual truth first and foremost and to allow that Truth to free me from fear and fill me with the gift of understanding. Jesus, I trust in You.