The “Fourth Week”: Week Thirty-One/Session Two.
Theme: Gathering The Graces.
Our reading for today: Romans 8: 29-39.
God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity He restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him. After God made that decision of what His children should be like, He followed it up by calling people by name. After He called them by name, He set them on a solid basis with Himself. And then, after getting them established, He stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what He had begun.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. (Romans 8: 29-30, 37-39 MsgB)
Over the last eight months, you and I (and God) have been on a journey together. We’ve called it An Ignatian Prayer Adventure, centering our three-times-per-week blog around the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. As we now have entered the final two weeks of our journey, Ignatius suggests that we take the extra time this week to reflect on some of the more important stops we’ve made along the way.
If you recall, we began our journey with a brief 9-session Introduction where I told you a bit of my personal story. If we’d been traveling together in person, we’d also taken the time to hear yours as well, but alas, with the limitations of on-line communications, we didn’t have the opportunity for that. Next up, we entered into what author Kevin O’Brien (The Ignatian Adventure) calls The Days of Preparation. Throughout these 18 blog sessions (6 weeks), we primed the pump of expectation, pondering on the amazing gift of God’s ongoing creation in the world and in us.
The next step along the way is defined by St. Ignatius as “The First Week.” For many, this might have been the most difficult part of our journey since we are encouraged to slow down and take a deeper look at our true sinful and selfish condition outside of the grace of God. Yet throughout these 12 challenging sessions (4 weeks) we were consistently reminded that while we are indeed, sinners in need of a Savior, we are also broken men and women who are deeply loved by a gracious Father.
The longest segment of our eight-month journey is defined by Ignatius as “The Second Week.” Here, throughout our 36-blog sessions covering 12 weeks, we journeyed with the Master from His amazing incarnational birth in Bethlehem through His three years of public ministry across the land of Israel. “The Third Week” (12 sessions-4 weeks) took us to Jesus’ days in Jerusalem, which culminated with the Cross, where Ignatius encouraged us to take the much-needed time to ponder the sufferings and the passion of our Christ. That brings up to the present “Fourth Week” sessions (18 blogs-6 weeks) where we now celebrate the Risen Lord and look to the future glories bestowed upon us through the Resurrection of Christ.
Today’s passage in Romans, quite possibly, might best reflect the big picture for us when we attempt to summarize all God has been attempting to do in our lives over the last eight months of our journey. Paul nails it pretty well when he reminds his friends that “God knew what He was doing from the very beginning.” You see, from heaven’s perspective, there’s only one agenda going on in our lives…and that goal is to “shape the lives who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son.”
So now, as I reflect over the time spent journeying with you, my dear reader, and with our ancient friend, St. Ignatius, I can, with all certainty, sit back just a bit and enjoy the fact that our whole trip has been about making you and me more like Jesus the Nazarene.
Hmm. Now that I mention it, I do see a bit more of the Master in your face. How about you?
My prayer: Father God, I rejoice that You have called me by name, and You have set me on a solid basis with Yourself. And then, after getting me established, You have stayed with me all along the way, and have promised to stay with me to the very end. I bless You that You will gloriously complete what You have begun in me, making my life reflect more and more the glory of Your precious Son, Jesus. Have Your way, O High King, have Your way. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: In the light of the amazing promises found in our Romans 8 passage today, what change of mind and attitude do I need to make as I view my past? Where do I need to rewrite my view of my history so that I embrace the truth that none of my past should faze me because of Jesus’ love for me? Am I absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between me and God’s love?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.