Ron Rolheiser’s Column from August 1, 1999 is fitting for Holy Week as we prepare to journey with Christ as he receives his “wounds”. I pray this week deepens your relationship with Christ.
There is a story told, a legend perhaps, about St. Theresa of Avila. One day the devil appeared to her, disguised as Christ. Theresa wasn’t fooled for even a second. She immediately dismissed him. Before leaving, however, the devil asked her: “How did you know? How could you be so sure I wasn’t Christ?” Her answer: “You didn’t have any wounds! Christ has wounds.”
Christ has wounds! So does anyone who stands where he stands. This is spiritual wisdom. To teach anything else is a sham. John of the Cross, the great mystical doctor of the soul, once laid out a series of spiritual counsels which, if followed, he believed, would lead to deeper intimacy with Christ. The first three of those counsels work this way:
Number one, study the life of Christ. We cannot move into deeper communion with Christ without first knowing who he is. Hence initially we must study his life, particularly as it is spelled out in the Gospels. Next, strive actively to imitate Christ. For John of the Cross, imitation is not a matter of trying to somehow mimic what we think Jesus might have looked like (as the “Jesus people” tried to do with their flowing-beards and white albs) or of trying to parallel what Jesus actually did (he taught, healed, and fed people; thus I will be a teacher, a nurse, or a social worker). All of these miss the point. For John of the Cross, imitating Jesus means trying to have the same motivation he had, trying to feel like he felt, and trying to do things for the same reason the did them.