On this day, in Jesuit communities and parishes around the world, we celebrate all the Saints and Blessed of the Society of Jesus in glory. This year, across the U.S. we are observing a National Day of Prayer for Vocations for our community. I want to take this opportunity to share this with our world wide community of reflection and prayer and ask that you join my brothers and me in praying that God will continue to call generous men to the Society of Jesus, that they might respond to his call, and that we might be worthy to receive them.
With today's Ordinary Time readings, this can be a day of reflection
on the vocation all of us have. Paul writes to the people
For all of us, it will take "little steps" in that direction. It will involve "practicing our faith" one step at a time - growing in the experience of self-sacrificing love, growing in the joy of it, growing in courage, growing in the graces that comes whenever we make more space in our hearts for love. We could all ask ourselves, "Who am I not loving very completely?" or "Whom do I fight with?" or "Who have I not forgiven?" or "Around whom do I have so much anger?" We may not like to shine a light on these tense or dark areas of our daily lives, but it is precisely there that God's grace is eager to come and transform us - to free us for love.
We can always make excuses. The people we don't love very much or the people who upset us are often very difficult to love. They are often stubborn or thoughtless or self-centered. We may have tried to be nice to them, or to make things better, but it never seems to work. It is like there is a "script" - they have their lines and I have my lines, and we just keep living the same oppositional roles. The excuses will always be there. We aren't bad people. We just don't see the possibility of loving more. Sometimes, we've just given up hope.
The only thing that will make a difference is if we have the same attitude as Jesus. Only self-forgetful love will bring healing and grace. But we don't have to do it completely all at once. A deep breath, turning my heart to God, and a self-forgetful smile is a great start. A decision, a choice, a surrender of myself to God's grace is the first step to being with others in ways that allow more love. Then we can listen and perhaps hear the other person's pain or insecurity. Then we can let go of our own stuff long enough to really notice that tough, thick-walled defense of the other is really about something inside that really needs loving. And, with grace and prayer, we discover that love heals. We can experience how much closer to the attitude of Jesus we have come, when we feel the grace of humble, self-emptying love. There will always be a cross - a death to self - in loving another. It will always involve forgiveness. But it will always partake in the redemptive love that has saved us all from the destructive power of our sin and death.
This is our vocation, as those who have been baptised into Jesus:
to love our spouses, our children, our parents, our siblings, our in-laws,
our friends, and our enemies - as Jesus has loved us.
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