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The Madness
of Love

by Fr. Ambrose Criste, O.Praem.

“David seized his garments and rent them, and all the men who were with him did likewise.”

Those men in David’s party, seeing David mourn the death of Saul, must have thought David a madman. Why wouldn’t David rejoice at the death of the crazy and envious King Saul, whose madness and selfish desire to see David dead had divided the army and driven a sad wedge between these chosen leaders of God’s people? The men in David’s party must have wondered at this new royal madness: one crazy king happily dead, and now his successor equally mad, mourning the death of the very one who sought his life.

“Jesus came with his disciples into the house. … When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’”

The wisdom of this world reckons life and life’s choices by far too small a measure. Such worldly wisdom proposes my own human judgments and reactions as the course to follow. “Your arch-nemesis is finally dead?” the world asks. “Rejoice that you are now free from your former persecutor and enter into your worldly kingdom!” Our Lord’s relatives see Him step away into the house with His disciples, and in their worldly wisdom they think, “He works too hard. He needs a break. He lets the needy crowd infringe too much into His life. He’s out of His mind.”

And then there is love.

Love moves according to a wisdom far better than any merely worldly wisdom. David loved Jonathan with divine love; he received from Jonathan divine love; and so David could love Saul even when Saul wouldn’t love him back. And with divine love David mourned the death of God’s anointed one.

Of such love Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity writes:

But to attain to this love the soul must first be entirely surrendered, its will must be calmly lost in God’s will so that its inclinations, its faculties move only in this love and for the sake of this love. I do everything with love, I suffer everything with love. This is what David meant when he sang, “I will keep all my strength for you.” Then love fills it so completely, absorbs it and protects it so well, that everywhere it finds the secret of growing in love, even in its relations with the world. In the midst of life’s cares it can rightly say, “My only occupation is loving!”

When we hear such moving words from Blessed Elizabeth, we might wonder, “When will my only occupation be in loving? When shall I too be so love sick and so wise that the world will think me a madman and a fool?” There is a place where it is already true—not just for David and Jonathan, and Jesus and St. John, not just for Blessed Elizabeth and all the other holy ones. That place is the Immaculate Heart of Mary. There she holds us, there in her heart, and not as we mistakenly think ourselves to be here below in our weakness. No, our Lady holds us there as she knows us already to be at our best: mightily loved and therefore lovesick, wisely encompassed by the Seat of Wisdom and so foolish in the eyes of this world, safely at home, even as we make our way to that place where beatitude already awaits us.

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