The Call To Share Jesus' Work
..... by inviting all peoples into God's household and the establishment of God's reign. "God wanted all things to be reconciled through .... Jesus the Lord." Col 1:19-20
(a paraphrase and adaptation of the Kingdom
of The Spiritual Exercises #'s through )
Human history has its great men and women. They have not only pointed toward a captivating vision evoking a generous response in the hearts of others but they have also `led' their followers, that is, these inspiring people themselves have set the pace with toil, and suffering, and work, in the same way that they encouraged or would have imaged for their followers.
Consider how some members of the human family have responded to such visionary heroes and heroines ... (such as, Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero, Mao Tse Tung, Mahatma Ghandi, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr., Joan of Arc, Che Quevara, Mother Teresa etc. ...) some gave up their possessions, others staked their reputations, others spent long months and years in jungle and discomfort, others identified themselves with the socially downtrodden, others risked or gave up their lives, others opted to live on the margin.
The Questions Behind This Exercise
How will I respond to Jesus, my Saviour? He has given and shared with me all that he is capable of doing for me (by dying on the cross and sending the Spirit he is constantly saving me, and accompanying me) what should be my response to such a benefactor? ... How will I respond to Jesus' vision of establishing a new kind of human community that all peoples celebrate the effects of God's love with one another on planet earth. ... How will I respond to Jesus' desire for my help in inviting all peoples into God's household? He gives all he can to me, what return shall I make to him?
Grace For Which I Will Ask
Here it will be to ask of Jesus, my Lord and my God, the grace not to be blind to his vision or deaf to his call but to be ready to hear and to co-operate with his desires for my help.
Ways Of Disposing Myself For This Grace
1. Watch what Jesus is doing:"He made His way through towns and villages preaching, and proclaiming the good news of the realm of God. With Him went the twelve" .... Lk 8:12. Listen to what He is proclaiming:
3. Consider The Meaning Of All This --
- I am the light of the world. Jn 8:12
- Come to me all you who labour and are burdened. Mt 11:28
- I have come to cast fire upon this earth, and how I wish it were blazing already. Lk 12:49
- All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Go forth and teach all nations. Mt 28:19
- As my Abba sent me, so am I sending you. Jn 20:21
- Yes I am a king ... but my realm is not of this world ... Jn 18:36-37
- Blessed are the poor in spirit ... Mt 5:3
- Go and sell everything you own ... Mk 10:21
- I have nowhere to lay my head.... Lk 9:58
- Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute youand speak all kinds of calumny against you ... Mt 5:11
- I am about to be handed over ... to be mocked and scourged and crucified. Mt 20:18-19.
4. Consider Possible Responses To All This And Particularly Your Own --
- Jesus is Lord. "He is the image of the unseen God and the first-born of all creation, for in him were created all things .... and he holds all things in unity .... because God .... wanted all things to be reconciled through him and for him ...." Col 1:15ff.
- Through Jesus, God desires to gather the peoples "... from age to age you gather a people to yourself, so that from east to west a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name." (R.C. Liturgy - Prayer III). "You anointed your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ eternal priest and ... first-born of all creation ... that he should ... deliver to his divine sovereign an everlasting realm of truth and life, a household of holiness and grace, a people of justice, love, and peace." (adapted from the R.C. Liturgy of Christ the King).
- The invitation of Jesus is addressed to all. It might be summarized in these words: "I desire to gather all peoples into God's household and win over my enemies, and thus to enter into the glory of my Abba. Therefore, whoever wishes to join me in this enterprise must be willing to labour with me, that by following me in suffering, that person may follow me in glory."
- How should all persons respond to this invitation?
- How should those persons respond who wish to give greater proof of their love and who wish to distinguish themselves in whatever concerns the service of the Lord of all? Ignatius Loyola suggests the following: "Not only will they offer themselves entirely for the work, but they will act against their selfishness and their self-centred worldly loves, and make offerings of greater value and of more importance in words such as these:
"Eternal Lord of all things, in the presence of your infinite goodness, and of your glorious mother and of all the saints, this is the offering of myself which I make with your favour and help. I protest that it is my earnest desire and my deliberate choice, provided only it is for your greater service and praise, to imitate you in bearing all wrongs and all abuse and all poverty - spiritual poverty certainly but even actual poverty - should your most holy majesty wish to choose and receive me to such a state and way of life."
An Ignatian Prayer For Generosity
Loving God, teach us to be generous.
Teach us to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to look for rest,
to labour and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing
that we are following your desires for us.
The Mystery Of The Incarnation
(a paraphrase and adaptation of the Incarnation
of The Spiritual Exercises #'s through )
The Cosmic Invisible Picture
I begin to appreciate this mystery by recalling the opening of John's Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. All things were created in the Word and without whom nothing was created...." From this cosmic vantage point of the beyond, I spend time pondering how our Caring God makes the decision to enter our tiny created world in time. I can use my power of imagination to comprehend how the Three Divine Persons are distressed at how human beings are destroying themselves and their planet home. I listen to them as they determine how the second person who is Word and begotten within God's trinitarian life should become human to save us.
So I spend time seeing what they see, hearing what they hear, understanding what they understand:the variety of peoples throughout the world -- peoples of different races, colours, creeds, with differing gifts and limitations; some making peace and others making war; some weeping, others laughing; some well, others ill; some being born and others dying; some cooperating, others refusing to cooperate, etc.I take time to appreciate how God watches part of the universe, planet earth, being destroyed and its people moving towards hell:by competitive behaviours; by unchecked pollution and destruction of the earth's ecological systems; by cleansing and liquidation of "undesirable" ethnic peoples; by starving mothers not being able to feed their starving children; by people dying from diseases caused by environmental irresponsibility fuelled by the quest for profit and greed.I taste and see the efforts of good people being thwarted and undermined by the mystery of evil at every turn.
Before moving to the other aspects of this contemplative exercise I enter into dialogue with my Caring God.
- What do the persons of the Trinity see on our planet?
- What are they thinking and feeling about all this?
- Listen to them expressing their concern?
- Stand in awe as you contemplate their decision to send the second person to become human for us.
- Read the biblical story of how Our Caring God becomes God-with-us in the person of Jesus (Lk 1:26ff).
The Visible Picture In Time And Place
While I contemplate this mystery as it takes place in time and place, I ask for the grace of a deep-felt knowledge of God become human in Jesus for me so that I might love him more and follow his Spirit more closely.
This contemplative exercise is done by taking the story in Lk 1:26ff and imaginatively entering into it as if it were taking place now. In this method, enter the gospel story just as if you were there by using your powers of imagining. Let the concrete details of this gospel story serve as a guide:
- Watch what happens and listen to what is being said. For example, the angel is fulfilling his/her mandate as special ambassador from God and Mary, perhaps being interrupted in her daily routines, receives the angel in her own unique way.
- Listen to what the angel and Mary are saying.
- Become part of the mystery either by being yourself or by becoming one of the persons in the story.
- Allow yourself to interact with the other persons in the event: enter into conversation with them, listen to what they have to say to you and to each other.
- Allow the event to unfold through your imagination. Be as passive as possible to allow this to take place. At the same time, remain more or less within the framework of the gospel story.
End with a dialogue with God, with the angel, and/or with Mary. Express to them what you feel and think; or ask for the gift of a more intimate knowledge of Jesus; or imagine what they are saying to you at this time.
Gospel Contemplation On The Nativity
(a paraphrase and adaptation of the Nativity
of The Spiritual Exercises #'s through )
Settling Into Prayer
After carefully placing yourself in the presence of God read slowly the scripture text Lk 2:1-8 and spend time recalling with your creative imagination various aspects of the story. Ignatius of Loyola used his imaghination in this way when he wrote:Mary went forth from Nazareth. She was about nine months with child, and as can be piously meditated, she was seated on a donkey, accompanied by Joseph and a maid, taking an ox. They are going to Bethlehem to pay a tax which Caesar imposed on all these lands.Continue to compose yourself with the story by imagining further details such as:
As you continue to settle into prayer focus on what you desire from God at this time. Among other gifts ask for the grace of a deep-felt knowledge of God become human in Jesus for me so that I might love him more and follow his Spirit more closely.
- What the road from Nazareth to Bethlehem was like whether dusty, or wide, or narrow, etc.
- What the cave where Jesus was born was like and what was in it.
Entering The Event More Deeply
I continue to enter more deeply into this event by first paying attention to the persons. I see Mary and Joseph and the maid, and, after his birth, the child Jesus. While I do this I can make myself a helpful servant looking after them and caring for them in their needs, with all possible respect and reverence, as though I were myself present. I stay with this as long as I experience some benefit.
Further, I can allow myself to interact with the Mary and Joseph and to converse with them as I listen to what they have to say to me and to each other. Again, I stay with this as long as I experience some benefit. In addition, I can allow myself to become part of what they are doing as they:
Again, I stay with this as long as I experience some benefit.
- Struggle to complete the journey;
- With this special child who is being born in actual poverty;
- So that at the termination of so many labours -- of hunger, of thirst, of heat and of cold, of injuries and affronts -- he may die on the cross; and all this for me.
Hold a dialogue with God, with Mary and/or with Joseph. Express to them what you feel and think; or ask for the gift of a more intimate knowledge of Jesus; or imagine what they are saying to you.