151. We need to remember that “contemplation of the face of Jesus, died and risen, restores our humanity, even when it has been broken by the troubles of this life or marred by sin. We must not domesticate the power of the face of Christ”. [Meeting with the Participants in the Fifth Convention of the Italian Church, Florence, (10 November 2015)]
How would you respond to Pope Francis’ questions:
So let me ask you: Are there moments when you place yourself quietly in the Lord’s presence, when you calmly spend time with him, when you bask in his gaze? Do you let his fire inflame your heart? Unless you let him warm you more and more with his love and tenderness, you will not catch fire. How will you then be able to set the hearts of others on fire by your words and witness?
Two contrasting qualities here. We enter into Christ’s presence in quiet and calm. How often do we emerge warmed and ready to pass the fire of love and faith on to others? Observers mistake the witness of holy people as being calm and quiet to the point of being lukewarm, static, unchanging, or withdrawn. The point of holiness is not a project of personal perfection, but enacting Christ’s commission to spread his message by example, if not by fruitful words.
Much deeper in the Christian tradition is the encounter with the Lord through his Sacred Heart or his Wounds:
If, gazing on the face of Christ, you feel unable to let yourself be healed and transformed, then enter into the Lord’s heart, into his wounds, for that is the abode of divine mercy. [Cf. Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermones in Canticum Canticorum, 61, 3-5: PL 183:1071-1073]
One of my frequent reflections in praying the Anima Christi is with this line, Intra tua vulnera absconde me. Hide me in your wounds, not in my own.