The “Second Week”: Week Fifteen/Session Two.
Theme: The Call of Christ, Our King.
Our reading for today: The Writings of Ignatius (SE97-98).
Those who desire to show greater devotion and to distinguish themselves in total service to their eternal King and universal Lord, will not only offer their persons for their labor, but go further still. They will work against their human sensitivities and against their carnal and worldly love, and they will make offerings of greater worth and moment, and say: (SE97)
“Eternal Lord of all things, I make my offering, with Your favor and help. I make it in the presence of Your Infinite Goodness, and of Your glorious Mother, and of all the holy men and women in Your heavenly court. I wish and desire, and it is my deliberate decision, provided only that it is for Your greater service and praise, to imitate You in bearing all injuries and affronts, and any poverty, actual as well as spiritual, if Your Most Holy Majesty desires to choose and receive me into such a life and state.” (SE98)
The late-and-great football coaching legend, Vince Lombardi, used to quip, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing!”
Now to many, this singularly-focused drive to win which Lombardi had in his life seemed to be over-kill for those who suggest that we should all live balanced lives. But to Lombardi, this motto was his way of explaining his complete devotion to the eating, drinking and sleeping of the game of football. And it was this unstoppable drive to win that, many say, made Lombardi and his Green Bay Packers of the 1960’s into one of best football teams the NFL has ever seen.
The truth of the matter is, to be truly great in something, will mean that you will need to give your unrelenting time, energy, and attention toward that one thing you are most passionate about. For Lombardi, that one thing was winning football games. Apparently, for St. Ignatius, it was pursuing the Kingdom of God.
Keep in mind, when the New Testament talks about the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, the authors are defining the Kingdom as ‘the complete right of God, our Creator, to rule and reign over every aspect of His creation.’ So when Ignatius suggests that we “show greater devotion and distinguish oneself in total service to our eternal King and universal Lord,” he is basically saying that submitting ourselves to God’s Kingdom rule and reign in our lives isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!
As I see it, for Jesus and His followers, there just isn’t any other passion in life than the hot pursuit of God’s overarching love and protection in this life and in the life to come. And from Ignatius’ perspective, once that invitation to walk alongside God and His advancing Kingdom has been accepted, all other pursuits in life need to grow pale and lifeless in the light of God’s illuminating love. As Martin Luther writes in his famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever.
Another song writer of a more recent time, Helen Lemmel, explains it this way:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.
So there you have it. Once a person accepts Jesus’ invitation to follow Him, no longer can that person take God’s Kingdom rule and reign and make it one portion of his or her life. The Kingdom is all or nothing. No half-ways. No partial rule and reign. No combination of Sunday on-the-field battles combined with armchair quarterbacking on Monday morning. Following Jesus and His advancing Kingdom is full-time, down and dirty, passionate pursuit of God’s rule and reign in your life, even when it isn’t fun.
My prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the stark reminder that Your invitation into God’s Kingdom is a serious offer, one that I dare not treat lightly. Help me to embrace passionately the pursuit of God’s rule and reign, letting go of all other interests that might attempt to woo me away from Jesus, lying to me about how I can hedge my bets when I follow my Lord and Savior. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So how have I allowed the pursuit of God’s magnificent Kingdom rule and reign to become a part-time endeavor? What other interests in life are competing for my time, energy and resources? What do I need to drop from my list of priorities in order to seek first and foremost the Kingdom of God?
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.
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