We pray for the following grace:
Let us pray for knowledge that we follow Christ even when we think we are not doing so; and the courage to be gentle with ourselves along the journey.
I’m thinking of discipleship during this time of Lent. Not only my own discipleship, but the discipleship modeled for me through the disciples themselves. As I pray during Lent, I cannot help but think of the disciples and my own discipleship as we move through Christ’s paschal mystery, Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Throughout Christ’s journey on earth there were disciples. And here I am, striving to be a disciple myself, knowing exactly where this Lenten journey will lead, which is more than the disciples themselves knew back in the day.
What does it mean to follow Jesus? I have in my mind, to be a follower of Christ, is someone who chooses Christ at every turn, who lays down every want and greed for the want of Christ, and who has a deep relationship with Jesus that mirrors the most intimate and solid friendships one has ever had. Then I look at my life. I see how I don’t always pray, or how I get severely distracted during mass with my worries and to-do lists, or find myself so frustrated that all I do is blame God for my shortcomings. I see myself as the kind of friend who pulls out a cellphone when someone I care about is speaking to me; I could be a better friend to Christ, I could be a better disciple.
I recently stumbled upon a reflection about the second week of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola by Peter W. Gyves, S.J. The Spiritual Exercises is a retreat consisting of a compendium of prayers, meditations, and contemplations written by St. Ignatius of Loyola to deepen a retreatant’s relationship with God. In this reflection, Gyves defines discipleship as a transformative experience. He says authentic discipleship “sets us upon a path to acquire the inner freedom so necessary to allow the Spirit of God to lead us where God will have us go.”
At many points in my life I have often seen myself as Peter, the disciple who walked on water until he didn’t. When Jesus walks out onto the water the disciples think they see a ghost. When they realize it’s Jesus Peter yells out, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus responds, “Come.” And so Peter steps onto the water and walks towards Jesus. Realizing he is moving atop the water, just like Jesus, Peter immediately plunges downward. Jesus reaches out and pulls Peter out of the water saying, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
I can see moments in my life where Christ is near and clearly at work. When I relocated to Chicago from Kansas City, Missouri, Christ provided me with the wherewithal to find an apartment and a job. And then I plummet in doubt at other moments, like mistrusting my intelligence when it comes to academics or talents when leading a bible study. As Peter did, I walk on water for a moment. And, like Peter, I descend into the waters, filled with dubiety and uncertainty. And yet, despite all that, Jesus reaches out and pulls me up, EVERTIME, encouraging me to keep following, to be gentle with my own discipleship. It seems to me, Jesus is not looking for perfection in my discipleship, rather Jesus is looking for me to believe, to take Jesus’ hand every time Christ reaches out, and to simply try again.
Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once [Jesus] spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how [strong] the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
Questions to Consider:
- In praying through the reflection and scripture, what is God saying to you about your own vocation?
- As you continue your journey this Lent, what new insight have you gained to put your vocation into action for God’s and God’s creation?
We find inspiration in the words of St. Alberto Hurtado.
“Upon his coming into the world, whom did Jesus call to him? The Magi and after the Magi? The publican. And after the publican? The prostitute. After the prostitute? The thief. And after the thief? The inflexible persecutor. Do you live like a pagan? The Magi would be considered pagans. Do you make a profit on the needs of others? The publican was such. Are you impure? The prostitute was also. Are you a murderer? The thief was one also. Are you an inflexible persecutor? So was Paul because he was first a blasphemer and later an apostle and an evangelist…Haven’t you seen the example of so many sinners pardoned by God? Have you sinned? Do penance. Have you sinned a thousand times? Do penance a thousand times. Satan will stand at your side at times to make you despair. Don’t listen to him; remember these few words: Jesus receives sinners, words that are a heartfelt cry of love, a pouring out of inexhaustible mercy and an unbreakable promise of pardon.”
Loving and Compassionate God,
You, who are the Light of my soul and the Desire of my faith;
Fill my heart with your mercy
Help me see You through the radiance of your presence,
So that I may find the freedom to follow you more clearly, more deeply, and more nearly,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom all that is good. Amen.