Saint John of the Cross makes clear that the only way to profound knowledge of the riches of God and the joy that this brings is through the thickets of tribulation and suffering. But this difficult path is worth traveling. For Christ, the destination, is like a mine with many pockets containing great treasures. So he encourages us to dig deeply into Christ! For the feast of John of the Cross on December 14.
Though holy doctors have uncovered many mysteries and wonders, and devout souls have understood them in this earthly condition of ours, yet the greater part still remains to be unfolded by them, and even to be understood by them.
Dig Deeply into Christ
We must then dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides.
Through Suffering to Treasures
For this reason the apostle Paul said of Christ: In him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God [Col. 2:3]. The soul cannot enter into these treasures, nor attain them, unless it first crosses into and enters the thicket of suffering, enduring interior and exterior labors, and unless it first receives from God very many blessings in the intellect and in the senses, and has undergone long spiritual training.
All these are lesser things, disposing the soul for the lofty sanctuary of the knowledge of the mysteries of Christ: this is the highest wisdom attainable in this life.
Christ, the Riches & Wisdom of God
Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross.
Saint Paul therefore urges the Ephesians not to grow weary in the midst of tribulations, but to be steadfast and rooted and grounded in love, so that they may know with all the saints the breadth, the length, the height and the depth – to know what is beyond knowledge, the love of Christ, so as to be filled with all the fullness of God.
Gate of the Cross
The gate that gives entry into these riches of his wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate, while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it.
This excerpt from A Spiritual Canticle by St. John of the cross (Red. B, str. 36-37) which he wrote amidst great suffering while in prison. It encourages us not to shrink from the thickets of tribulations since it is only through them that we will arrive at the riches & treasures of God in Jesus Christ. “Dig Deeply into Christ” appears in the Roman office of readings for the feast (liturgical memorial) of St. John of the Cross on December 14.
For more on the Riches and Treasures of Christ, see the HUMANITY OF JESUS section of the Crossroads Initiative Library.
Banner/featured image Portrait of John of the Cross by Arnold van Westerhout. Public domain.