Some Practical Help for Getting Started This Week

This week’s consideration is about love’s invitation. Over the past several weeks we have seen the transforming power of love. As loved sinners we have experienced two powerful move­ments: God’s love for us and our desire to respond to this love. In these exercises we have grown in a sense that our relationship with God is truly a relationship. Everything in our faith life changes as we grow more deeply into this relationship. Whereas before I might have tried to do good and avoid evil out of a sense of obligation, I now am looking for a way to respond in gratitude to someone who has loved me at the very time I’d been an unfaithful, unreliable friend.

That’s why the first part of this consideration is about an invitation of love as we might experience it with someone we love. Each of us may add a consideration that is rooted in a concrete loving situation we are in now. It doesn’t have to be an imaginative one. Perhaps my spouse and I are changing and have fallen into some ruts that haven’t been good for our relationship. We decide to make some major changes in the way we live our lives, for the sake of the relationship. Whatever the invitation of love is, it will have the same components: it won’t be easy, but we will have each other.

Then when we consider the call of Jesus we can sense and feel the call in the context of the invitation of love in this relationship — my relationship with Jesus. Several of the readings we had a few weeks ago contain elements of this kind of call. When Jesus got into Peter’s boat to preach (Luke 5:1–11), Jesus invited Peter into deeper water and showed Peter his power to net fish. Peter was humbled and wanted to run away. Jesus could then make the invitation of love — he could use a humble Peter. The woman at Simon the Pharisee’s dinner party (Luke 7:36–50) shows us so much about love’s power to transform us. Jesus tells his host that the difference between loving little and loving a lot has to do with how much we’ve been forgiven. This woman’s awareness of her sinfulness has carved out in her a greater capacity to love.

Radically following Jesus can only be a response of the heart. We can all admit that too often in the past we have been too busy to even hear the call, let alone respond to it. Now that we have been touched by the forgiving and healing love of Jesus, now that our hearts are desirous of expressing our gratitude, we can hear the call as love’s invitation.

Without jumping to our response yet, let’s listen this week. We want to be touched by the invitation, to experience what it does within our hearts. Perhaps we will want to write out the invitation we are hearing from the Lord. Perhaps we would be willing to share some grace we have received so that the whole group making this retreat can share in it. Perhaps we want to use our bodies to pray this week. I can sit in my chair for a bit and just listen to the call deep in my heart. I can rest my open hands, palms up, on my lap as a gesture of openness and gratitude. This simple ritual gesture, or any other I might choose, then becomes an expression to give a lasting symbolic life to my prayer.

Finally, we can all be renewed in the sense that we are on a journey. We are growing in our ability to find intimacy with God in our everyday lives — from the moment we put on our slippers to the moment we take them off at night. In all the background moments of consciousness, we are journeying through our life with a richer imagination and a deeper affective relationship with the One who is always faithfully with us.
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