In this week following Easter Sunday, the Gospels proclaimed at Mass recount appearances by Jesus to his friends following his resurrection. Today he appeared in the upper room, yesterday he encountered the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and so on.
In Week Four of the Spiritual Exercises, we spend time praying with these appearances. The grace of Week Four is to “feel glad and rejoice intensely because Jesus rises in exultation and in great power and glory.” Joseph Tetlow explains it this way:
In his humanness, Jesus triumphed over death. He had embraced everything human without ever acting unfaithful to his Father, to Himself, or to his friends. He had lived his life in uprightness and in joy. Now, He is confirmed eternally in His own joy – to be with the children of humankind….
This is the Jesus Christ who lives now. If you do not come to know Him both full of joy and exuberantly sharing his happiness, then you will not really know Him at all. You have asked in past days to know Jesus and to love Him and to follow where he goes. It is into fullness of life and complete human joy that he goes! If you do not follow him into his joy, you will ultimately find it hard to believe that you are following him at all.
The first post-resurrection appearance St. Ignatius invites us to pray with in Week Four is one that has no scriptural basis: Jesus’ appearance to his mother. St. Ignatius writes in his book on the Exercises:
He appeared to the Virgin Mary. Though this is not mentioned explicitly in the Scripture it must be considered as stated when Scripture says that He appeared to many others. For Scripture supposes that we have understanding, as it is written, “Are you also without understanding?”
Or, as I paraphrased it more colloquially, Ignatius says: Let’s be real, here. Who do you think Jesus would appear to in one of his first appearances? Of course he went to see his mother. It is impossible to imagine otherwise.
It is a good prayer exericise you may want to try sometime this week in between praying with the post-resurrection appearances described in the Gospels. Ignatius invites us to imagine Jesus coming to Mary…to stay and hear what they say and what they do. Let them share with you what they experienced together. Eperience Jesus consoling his mother. And be with them in their joy.