Indifference is to be practised in things belonging to the natural life, as in health, sickness, beauty, deformity, weakness, strength: in the affairs of the spiritual life, as in dryness, consolations, relish, aridity; in actions, in sufferings, -- briefly, in all sorts of events. Job, in his natural life was struck with the most horrible sores that ever eye beheld, in his civil life he was scorned, reviled, contemned, and that by his nearest friends; in his spiritual life he was oppressed with languors, oppression, convulsions, anguish, darkness, and with all kinds of intolerable interior griefs, as his complaints and lamentations bear witness. The great Apostle proclaims to us a general Indifference; to show ourselves the true servants of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, an distresses, in stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; in chastity; in knowledge, in long-suffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armour of justice on the right hand and on the left, through honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown and yet known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastised and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing: as needy, yet enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things.
Take notice, I pray you, Theotimus, how the life of the Apostles was filled with afflictions: in the body by wounds, in the heart by anguish, according to the world by infamy and prisons, and in all these, -- O God! what Indifference they had! Their sorrow is joyous, their poverty rich, their death life-giving, their dishonour honourable, that is, they are joyful for being sad, content to be poor, strengthened with life amid the dangers of death, and glorious in being made vile, because -- such was the will of God. And whereas the will of God was more recognized in sufferings than in the actions of virtues, he ranks the exercise of patience first, saying: But in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses: and then, towards the end, in chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering.
In like manner our divine Saviour was incomparably afflicted in his civil life, being condemned as guilty of treason against God and man; beaten, scourged, reviled, and tormented with extraordinary ignominy; in his natural life, dying in the most cruel and sensible torments that heart could conceive; in his spiritual life enduring sorrows, fears, terrors, anguish, abandonment, interior oppressions, such as never had, nor shall have, their like. For though the supreme portion of his soul did sovereignly enjoy eternal glory, yet love hindered this glory from spreading its delicious influence into the feelings, or the imagination, or the inferior reason, leaving thus his whole heart at the mercy of sorrow and distress.
Ezechiel saw the likeness of a hand, which took him by a single lock of the hairs of his head, lifting him up between heaven and earth; in like manner our Saviour, lifted up on the cross between heaven and earth, seemed to be held in his Father's hand only by the very extremity of the spirit, and, as it were, by one hair of his head, which, touching the sweet hand of his eternal Father, received a sovereign affluence of felicity, all the rest being swallowed up in sorrow and grief: whereupon he cries out: My God, why hast thou forsaken me?
They say that the fish termed lantern-of-the-sea in the midst of the tempest thrusts out of the water her tongue, which is so luminous, resplendent and clear, that it serves as a light or beacon for mariners. So in the sea of passions by which Our Lord was overwhelmed, all the faculties of his soul were, so to say, swallowed up and buried in the whirlpool of so many pains, excepting only the point of his spirit, which, exempt from all trouble, remained bright and resplendent with glory and felicity. Oh how blessed is the love which reigns in the heights of the spirit of faithful souls, while they are tossed upon the billows and waves of interior tribulations!