As the rind of the pomegranate is the least part of it, and includes all its excellence, so with this soul, its exterior appears of small account in comparison with what is concealed within. The interior is filled with, the purest charity and the most advanced graces, but hidden under a very common exterior; for God takes pleasure in hiding away the souls He destines for Himself. Men are not worthy to know them, though the angels admire and respect them even under the humblest external form in the world. Those who judge by the outward appearance alone would believe them very ordinary persons, though they are the delight of God.
These are not they who astonish the world by miracles, or the possession of extraordinary gifts; these things are a small matter in their eyes. God hides them for Himself, and is so jealous of them that he will not expose them to the eyes of men, but, on the contrary, He seals them with His seal, as He Himself declares that His Bride is a fountain sealed (ch. iv.12), whereof He Himself is the seal. But why does He keep her sealed? Because love is as strong as death and jealousy as cruel as the grave (ch. viii.6). How completely the matter is here expressed, for, as death takes away everything from him whom it holds, so Love snatches everything away from the soul and conceals it in the secret recesses of a living sepulchre. The jealousy of God is as cruel as hell, for it will spare no means whatever to possess itself fully of the Spouse.
I shall be reminded, perhaps, that this soul cannot be so hidden, inasmuch as she is a help to her neighbor. But I reply, that this is the very thing that most subjects her to humiliation, God making use of it to render the soul more contemptible because of the contradictions which she must experience. It is true that those who apply to her and are in a state to receive some communication of the grace which is in her, perceive its effects; but besides that, these souls themselves are exceedingly hidden. God generally permits the humble exterior to the chosen soul to offend even those who are made partakers of her grace, so that they often separate themselves from her after God has produced the effect He intended by her means.
The Bridegroom in this treats the Spouse like Himself. -- Were not all those whom he had gained for His Father offended because of Him? (Mark xiv.27). Examine for a moment the life of Christ; was there ever anything more ordinary as to the exterior? Those who accomplish more extraordinary things are copies of those saints of whom Christ said that they should do greater works than He did (John xiv.12). The souls of whom we now speak are other Christs, which is the reason why we perceive in them less the features of the saints; but if we seek for the marks of the Lord Jesus we shall find them most clearly there. Nevertheless, he is a stumbling-block to the Jews, and to the Greeks foolishness (1 Cor. i.23). These souls frequently, in their simplicity, offend those who are rather attached to legal forms than to the simplicity of the Gospel, and regard only the rind of the pomegranate without penetrating any further within.
O ye who are thus misled, remember that the pomegranate, to which the Spouse is so aptly compared, has a rind very contemptible in appearance, notwithstanding it contains the most excellent of fruits and the most agreeable both to the eye and the palate. This is the admirable order of charity which the Bridegroom began to introduce into the heart of His Spouse when He brought her into His store-chambers, and which is here finished, the pomegranate being now fully ripened.