Glorious Cross March 9
. . . sometimes we think something is beneficial for the pleasure it gives, even though it may prove harmful (Rule of St. Augustine, 34).
We easily fall into illusion. Pleasant attractions to the eye and ear in our surroundings promise us the satisfaction of desires, the joy of living. We think about staying where things have a good taste, where the most pleasurable feelings are. What makes life most comfortable, we feel, is best for us. We avoid places, circumstances and persons who do not give us immediate satisfaction or, at least, within a short time. We connect human happiness with what pleases us. Unfortunately, what is pleasurable is often a serpent that bites. There is another perspective from the Bible about this: what someone detests is often what blesses. Perhaps there is a situation, a duty or a demanding task that we prefer to avoid. Perhaps there is a person we would like to get far away from. Fleeing the disagreeable may be hasty. We need to ask whether the circumstance, duty, task or person might be a “bronze serpent,” with the power to heal if we engage with it. The divine ways are not our own. This is particularly true when it comes to evil in the world. Often evil is the other side of the coin of good. Even our sins, in the Providence of God, can serve as occasions of grace. It is characteristic of God to transform evil into good. It is characteristic of God to lift up what bites as the source of healing. In the salvation of the Crucified, every serpent can be a “bronze serpent.”
So it is with pineapples: their appearance is rough, but they are, in fact, exquisitely sweet. (Madagascar)