as the nether world is devotion; its flames are a blazing fire" (Songs 8:6B)
In Luke 10:39 we see Mary of Bethany
seated in the presence of Jesus--"at his feet"--with an interior disposition of
"devoted love", "keeping [her] eyes fixed on Jesus" (Heb.12:2). In the
Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples, "No one can serve two masters. He
will…be devoted to one" (Mt. 6:24). The word, devotion, means 'to give
or apply one's time, attention or self entirely to a particular
activity, pursuit, cause or person, with strong affection or attachment. We
see, then, that authentic devotion is both entire and particular! God is the
fierce, Devoted Lover--the Covenanted Spouse--of humanity. In Jesus we behold
the enfleshment of this Covenant Love in his intense, exclusive devotion to the
Father and through his total offering for humanity. Might we call it,
"Incarnational ferocity"?! Fiercely devoted, hence, fiercely driven, Jesus
desires to continue to live out his singularly fixed gaze upon the Father (and
his driven desire to fulfill the Father's divine design for humanity) through
each of us.
The Lord speaks to us through the
the devotion of your youth, how you loved me as a bride, following me in
the desert, in a land unsown"
have a God Who remembers. True love does not forget: "I will never forget you!"
(Is. 49:15). A devoted heart lives in perpetual remembrance and awareness of
the beloved. Jesus is the enfleshment of God's remembrance for us: "For he has
remembered his promise of mercy" (Luke. 1:54) towards sinful humanity. Every
Eucharist celebrates God's remembrance of humanity through the merciful handing
over of His Son for our salvation: "Do this in memory of me" (Luke
22:19) Jesus says at the Last Supper: Devoted Love remembers! God has
given us a share in his devotion through the Gift of the Holy Spirit: "He will
teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you" (John
14:26). This is important for intercessors, for the strong, holy affection and
attachment of devotion directs our hearts everyday through thepromptings, stirrings, and inspirations of
the Holy Spirit.
At all times God remembers who each of
us really is in our true identity as son or daughter. He calls each heart to
renewal--back to its "bridal beginnings"--when the heart was fixed
completely on God in a committed, covenant closeness and fidelity, a
"spousal union", with all the passion and energy found in nuptial newness and
nuptial nearness, where one is vowed perpetually to the Other whom one belongs
to exclusively. Each heart is called to be like a "bride with eagles' wings",
unafraid to pioneer into 'virgin territory', willing to risk entering the
unknown with a known and cherished Lover.
The Lord desires to lead each of us
into the "desert of renewal" first of all in order to speak to our
"spousal heart", to lift the veil so the heart can receive the truth of his
Spirit-filled word that changes us to be more like him (see Hosea. 2:16): "They
are pure and follow the Lamb wherever he goes" (Rev. 14:4. N.A.B., 1970
trans.)= "They are pure (chastity) and follow (obedience) the
Lamb (zeal) wherever (poverty) he goes". We might speak here of
devotional chastity, devotional obedience, devotional poverty, and devotional
zeal. Jesus wants each of us to share in his own chaste Love, his obedience to
the Father, his willful poverty and his zeal for the salvation of souls.
True, holy devotion to God and
humanity abides in a heart that has moved beyond the "dating" phase of weighing
possible options to choose from--non-committal--and not fully waging war
interiorly on worldliness and the flesh within oneself. Devotion,
rather, is about 'this one only'! One must learn--be trained--to let go of,
to die to, other choices. There is a dying implicit to a growth in true
devotion. This is part of the purpose of the "desert experience" that Jesus
leads us into. He wants to capture our hearts completely. He knows how to "love
us to death":
the road that leads to salvation is a person, Jesus, the Christ. It is he whom
the disciple follows, to whom he attaches himself. Thedisciple
prefers Him to each and every person, "indeed his very self"…It is a
radical and total choice that involves all of one's life and being" (Days
of the Lord, Vol. 6, 23rd Sunday; pp. 204-205).
Where am I being invited to a growth in devotion in my life?
Are there any elements in my life that are keeping me from a more devoted love