Savor the Name

Most fruit seems like a gift, but a pomegranate is the most extravagant.  The seeds burgeon under the skin, and when you tear it open with a tart ripping sound, the byzantine arrangement within tells you that here, there is both order and design, and an unaccountable exuberance.  The seeds shine.  They glow like rubies, and you crunch them with your teeth and lick the blood of rubies off your lips.

Well, that's how I feel about pomegranates. 

I was saying the rosary the other day.  Chesterton says that if a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing badly.  That's the only thing that kept me going with that morning's rosary:  the idea that it's better to pray badly than to not-pray well.  It was an exceptional morning, in that I was actually saying my morning rosary; but it was an ordinary rosary, in that I was slip-sliding my way through the beads.  I wasn't really awake.

Halfway through, a picture came to mind. I had a handful of pomegranate seeds -- and they were spilling out of my fingers.  Just slipping away, one after the other.  Shame and regret bumped me back, before I knew why.  What was it that I was losing?  What was I letting fall?  I replayed the morning in my mind, and then I knew:  it was the name of Jesus.  The Holy Name, hiding, shining, in the middle of every Hail Mary.  Waiting under the dull red skin, the name of Jesus, multiplied, burgeoning, waiting to be tasted.

And as I prayed, half asleep, I let that name trickle through my hands.  He waited; I let Him go, unsavored.

Pope Francis, in his new apostolic exhortation, reminds us that now is the time to try again:

I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace."

It used to be that every Catholic would bow his head at the mention of the Holy Name.  It was -- it is -- something too precious to let slide past unsavored.  We bow our heads in reverence, but also in delight -- in recognition of a gift.  What a simple way to recall ourselves to the truth that Jesus is there, waiting.  What an easy way to accept his invitation.  What an extravagant gift He is.  We can take Him reverently into our bodies; we can taste His precious blood.  Let us not be deceived.  Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!