Arriving at St. Ignatius Retreat House yesterday afternoon was like coming home. This was the house I served on the adjunct staff of before moving to Minneapolis and it was my spiritual home for seven years. As you enter the grounds, there is a large statue of the Sacred Heart, Jesus arms stretched out wide. As I arrived and saw the statute, I felt my whole body start to relax and open up, as it does whenever I enter the grounds and see that statue.
I always – and still do – see those arms as a sign of welcome. Come to me, invites Jesus. Come rest in me. But last evening, as I wandered the grounds after dinner and strood for a while before the statute, I realized for the first time that Jesus gesture has a dual meaning. The same gesture that says Come to me, also says Go forth. I saw in the gesture Jesus’ sending us out (almost corraling us out the door, the way a mother might send her children out to play in the yard after a meal). Go forth and preach the Gospel to all nations.
Although I had never seen this before, the dual meaning makes perfect sense; it is central to our lives as Chrisitans. We are always both invited to rest in Jesus and commanded to go our into the world and proclaim the Gospel. This is who we are. But the former reminds us that we do not do the latter alone. We do iw with Jesus.