Memorial of St. John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church
(Numbers 24:2-7.15-17a; Matthew 21:23-27)
The man was troubled. He was a committed Catholic but was having a hard time believing what the Church teaches. He wondered whether he was undergoing a “dark night of the soul.”
That term was formulated by today’s patron, St. John of the Cross. It means that one experiences dryness in belief. Truths are accepted but only by force of will. The person feels no joy in believing in her eternal destiny. Perhaps John himself experienced this anguish as he was harassed for calling his brother Carmelites to reform.
Some think that Jesus himself experienced a dark night as he hung upon the cross. For this reason he may have cried, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” It is such a disturbing possibility that Luke and John view Jesus’ death quite differently. They see allies at his side and an overarching trust in God as his demeanor.
We too may experience a dark night. We may view the gospel as idealism and God as a projection. We would be in good company. But it is not a state that we should pursue. Rather we should pray that the Advent hope of seeing Jesus will remain in our hearts until it is realized.