There is one thought I find at once most perplexing and wonderful: that God is an uncreated Creator who needs nothing for Himself, yet He loves us creatures He made for Himself. What purpose do we serve? That is not a highly complementary question for us creatures who tend to think highly of ourselves—that we are created for another and to serve, at least for the time being. The whole notion is the other side of the question on love I was pondering the other day (“Waves”). Thanks to Deacon Schwerdt for pointing out the dangers of treading too deeply, in either case. 😊
The gospel from this morning’s mass, however, might be a good catalyst to help us address these realities carefully. Jesus asks us (the blind man) “What do you want me to do for you?” Hardly the question one would expect of a God who is completely satisfied within Himself as a Trinity of Persons in need of nothing else to exist. Yet I trust it is a question that is never far from the Savior’s heart and mind, knowing well we need everything from Him. And yet, moments before the gospel, this morning’s first reading from Revelation had our Lord chastising His people:
“I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate the wicked; you have tested those who call themselves Apostles but are not, and discovered that they are imposters. Moreover, you have endurance and have suffered for my name, and you have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first” (Rev 2:2-4).
It is love God wants for us and from us, and He is not particularly satisfied with the way His creatures respond to Him with the little love we offer. And that is not something I need be theoretically perplexed about but rather personally saddened and deeply moved by.
Consider that we are advancing in the liturgical cycle to the final Sunday of the year, Christ the King. The Church loves to go out with a bang, and rightly so. God, who is King of Kings, offered Himself on the cross that His people might respond with more tender affection and respect, not to mention a willingness to offer holy sacrifice for the One who brought us into being and loves us on our way. The Lord knows well what we want, and He wishes to top all our created needs and desires with the barely imagined fulfillment that we might become kings ourselves like Him in His holy realm. Here, let me offer a story from Morita Therapy which is designed to lessen anxiety and angst (for us who love).
Once, a king who had a son was growing old. Calling his son, he said, “soon you will inherit my kingdom, with all of its needs and responsibilities.”
The young prince balked. “But I don’t want to be king! The attention, the parties, the prestige that goes with being a prince are nice, but sitting on the throne day after day with that heavy crown and making judicial decisions is all too much!” With that, the young man ran into his chambers and locked the door.
The king was beside himself with grief: “What kind of son have I raised? How will I get him to see what is his destiny? Ah, my trusted advisor! Bring in the Grand Vizier!”
The Grand Vizier indeed was wise in many ways. He listened patiently and had the king write out a letter to his son. Then he went to the Prince’s chambers and knocked on his door.
“Go away!” Sniffed the Prince. “I’m not interested.”
“Your Royal Highness, it is I, your Father’s advisor.”
“I don’t want to be King!” A muffled voice filled with tears came from behind the door.
“I understand your reluctance, because no one has made mention of the dynastic pill.”
“Dynastic pill?” The young man’s door opened and a bleary eyed Prince peered through puffy lids.
“Yes, your highness. Every king in this country has relied on the dynastic pill to get him through the trauma and stress of making the transition called for by this frightening responsibility. I will leave the pill, along with a letter from your Father.”
The King died that night. And three days later, his son, in full royal regalia, took the throne and went on to become a good and gracious king, like his father.
What of the dynastic pill you ask? This is the King’s letter the young man read that night with trembling hands and soulful tears:
My dear Son,
There is no dynastic pill. When I was your age, the Grand Vizier brought something called a dynastic pill and explained to me that it was simply a mixture of bitter herbs which I was to keep under my tongue until it dissolved. I did not want the obligations either! But there is no better preparation for the duties that lie ahead, and I have full confidence that you will you go on to rule as just and lovingly as I have tried. Of course, you will have the wisdom of our court counselor to guide you as well.
Your Loving Father,
My point in all the pausing, posturing and pondering over an angst of loving Love that has loved us beyond our imagining is this: sometimes, love entails bitter pills, and the loving thing to do is swallow them and keep loving in return. “Lord that we might see!” “Have sight; your faith has saved you.”