We are considering these days the gestures of Jesus. Ignatius invites those making the Exercises to be so present in the events of the life of Jesus that we let those events almost happen in our own lives. We are so there that we are there watching and listening to this God-made man coming alongside every human condition.
After being tempted by the Evil One, Jesus walked along the shore and called to two sets of fishermen. He was apparently so attractive that they left their former means of living to live lives that gave them their new meaning of life. Jesus came as light and here enlightens his first four followers. They made some initial choice to stay in the light.
As his early followers found out, staying in the light, staying enlightened, can be too brilliant, and so at times they drifted away in the shadows of doubt, resistance, and self-preoccupation. Jesus’ response was always an encouraging invitation to return and reform. By his instructions and deeds of caring for his followers, Jesus gave them information about who he was and who they were. Information then leads to reformation and ultimately to conformation to the person who reverenced them enough to allow them to wander.
Jesus offered them signs or gestures that made his way of living worth a good try. This week and for the next few weeks, we are invited to see these gestures of Jesus in such a way that we might more closely consider our own reformation and conformation to his ways. He does not call to us from way up ahead, or above, but actually from beside and behind. In a strange mysterious way, we watch him in front of us, but he calls to us from behind. He so reverences our freedom that he allows us to take this road or that, and he watches and follows. So here is this Jesus who we watch so as to follow, and then he follows our choices and watches how to more lovingly offer us gestures that prove his fidelity to us.
Our prayer this week centers on our awareness of his actions in the lives of the people who were called early in the public life of Jesus. Have we seen enough of his ways to be attracted to make some adaptive changes in our lives that will make him more available for other people to see his ways in our own? As with the early followers, we are not going to be perfect in staying in the brilliance of the light of his teachings. Our moving in and out of the light is how we follow him and why he follows us reverently and compassionately. The major changes in the lives of any human being are results of having deeply met other influential and impressive people. The prayer this week is a response to the gestures of a God who wants to be influential and impressive while still respecting our free choice. Is there a choice welling up in our prayer this week?