Today's Gospel: John 3:7-15
St. Catherine of Siena, whose feast we celebrate today, experienced spiritual ecstasy and mystical union with God from a young age. These are ethereal and surreal to us (more “ordinary” folks), but Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel that those who have the Holy Spirit dwelling deeply within their souls do not adhere only to what is humanly logical or rational. If we are to keep our hearts fixated on what is above rather than on what is earthly or transitory, we will more easily embrace the Truth that God’s ways and thoughts are beyond our own very finite and limited lives.
Jesus spoke personally to St. Catherine of Siena in the following locution excerpt: “You will see…how those who walk in the light carry themselves, and how those who walk in the darkness carry themselves. I also want you to look at the bridge of my only-begotten Son and see its greatness. That is, that by it the earth of your humanity is joined to the greatness of the Deity, for it reaches from heaven to earth. I say then that this bridge constitutes the union which I have made with man” (Little Talks With God).
Jesus is speaking in this Gospel to Nicodemus, who doesn’t quite comprehend all that Jesus is explaining to him. First, He speaks of being “born of the Spirit” (v. 8b). Then He says, “so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (v.15). Of course this is all climaxing to one of the most famous and beloved of all Scripture verses, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
There are people of every age who do not see the world through the lens of faith, to grab hold of God’s promises with confidence and great hope, despite all that the world tells them or even in spite of what their senses allow them to experience and know. Somehow, the soul elevates itself to the God who created it, and therein the beautiful ecstasies and mysticism of great saints like Catherine of Siena are beholden. Though many of us may find her irrelevant, antiquated or simply strange, others are captivated by her holiness and will be inspired to desire their own journey towards sanctification.
In essence, that is what Jesus is asking of us today: not only to simply believe that He is God and our Savior, but to go beyond acceptance by living our lives through an ever-deeper yearning to be fully united with Him. I think this means for our hearts to be joined as one with His Most Sacred Heart, and St. Catherine lived this well. We, too, must seek how God is asking us to be holy through our vocations, in both invisible and extraordinary ways.
How do I apply my proclaimed faith in Jesus throughout my daily life and in my vocation? In what ways am I called to put my faith in action?
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, help me to seek that unitive love that you sharedwith St. Catherine of Siena so that nothing on earth will satiate this thirst and that heaven may always be in my spiritual foresight.
Copyright 2014 Jeannie Ewing
About the Author
Jeannie Ewing believes the world ignores and rejects the value of the Cross. She writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief. As a disability advocate, Jeannie shares her heart as a mom of two girls with special needs in Navigating Deep Waters and is the author of From Grief to Grace , A Sea Without A Shore , and Waiting with Purpose. Jeannie is a frequent guest on Catholic radio and contributes to several online and print Catholic magazines. She, her husband, and three daughters live in northern Indiana. For more information, please visit her website lovealonecreates.com.