I leave this afternoon for Koininea Retreat Center, where I will be giving a silent weekend retreat for University of St. Thomas undergraduate and graduate students. For some it will be their first experience of a silent retreat.
I picked as my theme Choosing Christ in the World, which I borrow from the title of a retreat manual on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius written by Joseph Tetlow, S.J.
The title raises the question what it means to “choose Christ.”
Choosing Christ means more than saying that theologically I label myself a Christian. It doesn’t just mean saying I think Christ beats Mohammed or Buddha. Or, that unlike the Jews, I think Jesus was the Son of God who died and rose for me, and not just a rabbi.
Choosing Christ means more than saying, well if Jesus and Satan were choosing up sides, I’d pick Jesus.
Choosing Christ implies a radical commitment to live as Jesus lived. To love as Jesus loved. To call his values our values – in the face of a world whose value system is not in accord with his.
A radical commitment. Kayla McClurg wrote this in a recent commentary on the passage in Luke’s gospel where Jesus talks about giving up father and mother for his sake:
There comes a tipping point in any relationship that determines what kind it will be, whether it will be a simple acquaintance or a radical commitment. Will we stay as long as we enjoy ourselves, or will we have the courage to embrace whatever comes, to love even the parts we hate? It’s time to decide: Will we be [Jesus’] casual friend, or will we be closer-than-family, bonded more deeply than blood? We can hang out in the crowd, listen to his teachings, applaud his healings, or we can check the depths of our own commitment. We can count the cost, open our hands and hearts, and pick up our cross. Or not. The choice is ours.
What I want to invite the students into this weekend is a reflection on that choice. And the questions I hope they will consider are ones we might all take some time with: Are you willing to make a radical commitment to Christ? And, if you are not quite there yet, are you willing to be honest with Christ about exactly where you are in your journey and what it is that inhibits your full commitment (recognizing that I can only grow from exactly where I am right now) ?