Some Practical Help for Getting Started This Week

We want to let the words of Jesus draw us to him. Who is he? He is one who stands up and says that God blesses us when we are most vulnerable and in need. He proclaims it, he lives it in his own compassion and outreach, and he died for saying it. This is who he is — the one we are coming to know and love and be drawn to follow.

We must begin by listening. We want to listen with the fascination and focus of a lover. How many times have we heard the readings selected for this week? How many times have they left very little impression on us? This week we want to go to those readings hungry for everything they can tell us about Jesus.
If it helps, read each reading many times throughout the week. Read each reading all the way through to get the context and the whole message. Then, go back and read it more carefully, noticing words that surprise you. It can help to compare translations of the readings. Notice how seeing different ways of saying the same thing can reveal the meaning more deeply.

After a particular reading is familiar, reflect on who the audience is. For whom is this good news? Who is threatened by it? Can I place myself in that scene and feel proud of Jesus for his words of comfort and liberation? And then can I experience these words as addressed to my heart?

As we’ve noted before in this retreat, the real fruit of the week’s reflection will occur to the degree that the reflection makes its way into the background of our everyday lives. From the time we wake, until the time we sleep, we can let each and every human experience be open to being an experience of intimacy with Jesus. The readings will help us get there. The more those words of Jesus penetrate my heart, the more I will experience every part of my life addressed — my ambivalence, my fears, my hungers, my efforts to be merciful and a peacemaker.

• Do I feel joined to Jesus in this or that act of my day, drawing nourishment that bears fruit?

• Can these words expose moments when I go away sad because I can’t bring myself to be heroic in this or that choice, when my possessions are at stake?

• Can I imagine being judged at the end of time by how I deal with the seemingly unimportant people in my life today?

• Do I walk through my day as though I’m in search of a treasure or fine pearl — where everything else pales in importance in comparison to the desire to give myself completely to being with the one I love in his mission?

• Can I give him thanks this very morning or afternoon or evening — in these events — for his liberation, for the blessedness he is revealing to me about my poor but humble spirit?

Give thanks each evening before I go to sleep for the growing presence of Jesus’ spirit in my day, drawing me to greater freedom and joy and being with him in giving my life away.
And please consider sharing any graces from this week with others making the retreat by going to the online retreat page and clicking on the “To Share” link. This could allow many other people to profit from the graces offered you.

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