EG 3: Renewed Personal Encounter

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneThe contrast between this document and 1947’s Mediator  Dei (written expressly for bishops, certainly not the laity and not even for priests) is amazing.

Pope Francis addresses believers beyond the bounds of Roman Catholicism:

3. 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”.[Gaudete in Domino 22] 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”.

As I experience the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises this year, I hear a familiar tune in this very personal appeal. As my pastor preached this past Sunday, knowing Jesus is about a relationship, not an academic approach. It seems unusual to consider the deep intellectualism for which the Jesuits are known (in both criticism and admiration) is rooted in a very intimate spirituality.

That theme of mercy:

How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!

The realistic diagnosis of EG 2 is balanced by an optimistic tone. Human beings are dignified not through our own accomplishments, but because we are lifted on the shoulders of Christ (a triumphant pose from today’s sporting world) and because of the one who loves us.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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