Many of you are familiar with the meditation on the Two Standards in the Spiritual Exercises. Spiritual directors, writers, and guides have used the reflection on soldiering under the banner of Jesus or the devil for centuries. Sometimes, it’s well-adapted for a particular listener.
In prepared remarks to young people in Paraguay, Pope Francis offered a modern take on this meditation, no less profound, and no less understandable to those of us who follow sports:
Saint Ignatius has a famous meditation on the two standards. He describes the standard of the devil and then the standard of Christ. It would be like the football jerseys of two different teams. And he asks us which team we want to play for.
In this meditation, he has us imagine: What it would be like to belong to one or the other team. As if he was saying to us: “In this life, which team do you want to play for?”
Saint Ignatius says that the devil, in order to recruit players, promises that those who play on his side will receive riches, honor, glory and power. They will be famous. Everyone will worship them.
Millions of dollars in transfer fees and salaries. Adulation. License to do as one wishes, to dominate others, even off the field. To live with few consequences.
Then, Ignatius tells us the way Jesus plays. His game is not something fantastic. Jesus doesn’t tell us that we will be stars, celebrities, in this life. Instead, he tells us that playing with him is about humility, love, service to others. Jesus does not lie to us; he takes us seriously.
It is typically Ignatian to adapt and propose new ways of looking at older things.