Friar Jack Muses About God's Love Behind Creation

Last month I shared my anxiety about how our modern day e-technology gives us both blessings and anguish. Being in instant touch by e-mail with thousands around the world is, at the same time, a miracle and a trap. It tends to make our daily treadmill spin faster and faster. We can't respondto everyone's questions and needs--or even pray for others as much as we'd like. This can be a source of anguish.

Well, a kind reader sensed the anxiety in my words and shared these thoughts in an e-mail: "Dear Friar Jack: Being a nurse I understand your feelings. We are only human and as wonderful as that is, it is limiting. We cannot really solve other's ills or problems, but only do what we can within our limitations and also by caring for ourselves because, if we don't, we cannot help or pray for anyone...." I hope others are consoled as much by her wise compassion as I was.

We are also consoled by the good news of God's loving presence and incredible compassion for us. Behind the surface of reality, our faith tells us, is not a black void but a heart beating with unlimited love for each of us. I feel inspired to share with you my reflections on the great poem of Joseph Mary Plunkett, "I See His Blood Upon the Rose." It's something I've wanted to put into writing for some time.

A note on the poet: Born in Dublin in 1887, Joseph Plunkett wrote many poems of rare mystical force. He was attracted to St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa and St. Francis. He was one of the signers of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and was executed at age 28 for his part in the 1916 Rising.

Here is his poem:

"I See His Blood Upon the Rose"

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice--and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

In the second half of my musings, at the end of this e-newsletter, I will do a line-by-line meditation of these verses. I'll look for you there.


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Here are my line-by-line reflections on Joseph Plunkett's amazing poem:

"I see his blood upon the rose": When we gaze at a rose or any other part of this universe, we see not only the individual beauty of the rose, precious and awesome in its own right. We see also the intensity of God's care behind that rose and behind the universe itself--an intensity revealed in Christ's all-out, self-giving love--in the blood he spilt for us on the cross.

"And in the stars the glory of his eyes": In the stars we see not only the glory of his death and total self-giving. We see also the glory of his risen body and his death-conquering gaze.

"His body gleams amid eternal snows": When we look at snowcapped mountains or other snowy vistas, we might see glimpses of Christ's pale body, as when taken down from the cross--or his glorified, transfigured body shining brighter than snow."His tears fall from the skies": Again, behind the lovely everyday processes of nature such as a spring shower, we can't help seeing the love of our Great Lover--and the tears he shed over Jerusalem or during the pain of his agony in the garden. The beauty of rain is admirable in itself, but when we link it with the outpouring love of our gracious God we grasp an added depth and beauty.

"I see his face in every flower": Every flower, indeed everything in this universe, reminds us of Christ. As St. Paul tells the Colossians (1:16),"All things were created through him and for him." We recall, too, that St. Francis saw in the beauty of flowers the One who is Beauty itself.

"The thunder and the singing of the birds/Are but his voice": Singing birds and all other sounds of nature communicate one thing: "We were made for Jesus Christ and we sing of him." Jesus is the goal of history and "the Center of the Universe," as Pope John Paul II writes in"Redeemer of the Human Race."

"And carven by his power/Rocks are his written words": Christ, the Word made flesh, is truly intermingled with the universe. Creation itself is a reflection of the Word through whom "all things came to be" (John 1:3).

"All pathways by his feet are worn": At the Incarnation, God made this world his home. Every path, trail and road of this earth has taken on an elevated dignity and meaning because of the pathways Christ took while accomplishing his mission on earth. All paths remind us of the pathway he took to save us--the Way of the Cross.

"His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea": In the sea pounding against the jagged coast, we get glimpses of Christ's mighty heart pounding with love for us.

"His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn": Every thorn is somehow intertwined with Christ's crown of thorns. Indeed, in every created thing we see Christ's saving love.

"His cross is every tree": Behind every tree, we can see Christ's cross--and the Creator's unconditional love.

Now, if you will, set aside my words and scroll back up to re-read the poem--as the Spirit inspires YOU.


Your comments and suggestions are an "e-spiration" to me! Keep them coming via e-mail:

--Jack Wintz, O.F.M.

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