Thoughts from the
Sixth Sunday of Easter C
May 5, 2013
Commentary by Bernard of Clairvaux
The Holy Spirit will teach you everything
and remind you of all I have said to you.
Surely it is no wonder that the Lord Jesus gladly makes his home in such a heaven
because, unlike the other heavens, he did not bring it into existence by a mere
word of command. He descended into the arena to win it; he laid down his life
to redeem it.
Father and I will come to him”that is to say,
to the holy of heartsays the Son of God, “and we
will make our home with him.” It seems to me that when
the psalmist said to God: “You make your dwelling in
the holy place, you who are Israel’s praise,” he had
no other heaven in mind than the hearts of the saints.
The apostle expresses it quite clearly: “Christ lives
in our hearts through faith,” he tells us.
And so after the battle was won he solemnly declared: “This is
my resting place for ever and ever; here I have chosen to dwell.” Blessed
indeed is the soul to whom the Lord says: “Come, my chosen one, I will set
up my throne in you.”
Why, then, are you sorrowful, my soul, and why are you troubled within me? Are
you trying to find a place for the Lord within yourself? Who among us can provide
a fitting place for the Lord of glory, a place worthy of his majesty!
I might be counted worthy to worship at his footstool, that I might at least
cling to the feet of some saintly soul whom the Lord has chosen to be his dwelling
However, the Lord has only to anoint my soul with the oil of his mercy
for me in my turn to be able to say: “I have run the way of your commandments
because you have enlarged my heart.”
Then perhaps, even if I cannot usher
him into a large and richly furnished room in my heart where he may refresh himself
with his disciples, I shall at least be able to offer him a place to lay his
It is necessary for a soul to grow and be enlarged until it is capable of containing
God within itself. But the dimensions of a soul are in proportion to its love,
as the apostle confirms when he urges the Corinthians “to widen their hearts
Although the soul, being spiritual, cannot be measured physically,
grace confers on it what nature does not bestow. It expands spiritually as it
makes progress toward human perfection, which is measured by nothing less than
the full stature of Christ, and so it grows into a temple sacred to the Lord.
Love, then, is the measure of the soul. Souls are large that love much, small
that love little; while as for the soul that has no love at all, such a soul
is itself nothing. “Without love,” says Saint Paul, “I am nothing.”
the Song of Songs 27, 8-10: Edit. Cist. 111957] 187-189)
Bernard (1090-1153) entered
the monastery of Citeaux with thirty companions in 1112.
He received his monastic training under the abbot, Saint
Stephen Harding, who sent him in 1115 to make a foundation
at Clairvaux in France. Soon one of the most influential
religious forces in Europe, Bernard was instrumental in founding
the Knights Templar and in the election of Pope Innocent
I in 1130. He was a strenuous opponent of writers such as
Abelard, Gilbert de la Porree, and Henry of Lausanne. Above
all, Bernard was a monk; his sermons and theological writings
show an intimate knowledge of scripture, a fine eloquence,
and an extraordinarily sublime mysticism.
Edith Barnecut, O. S. B. As a consultant for the International Committee for English in the Liturgy, Sr. Edith was responsible for the final version of many of the readings in the Liturgy of the Hours.
Copyright © 1994, New City Press.
All Rights Reserved.
Journey with the Fathers
Commentaries on the Sunday Gospels - Year C, pp. 58-59.
Edith Barnecut, O. S. B., ed.
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Art by Martin Erspamer, O.S.B.
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C).
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