Central to Ignatian Spirituality, and to St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, is the idea that we are invited to co-labor with Christ for the building of the Kingdom, something I’ve mentioned in prior posts in this series. Each of us is called to play a part. So our personal relationship with God – our personal encounter with Christ – is necessary, but it is not sufficient. Rather, we are invited to live for the life of the world.
That raises the question: Who is this Jesus who invites us to labor with him? An important part of the goal of the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises is getting to know this Jesus who has called us to labor with him, and growing in the sense that there is nowhere for me to be other than with him.
Even apart from its placement in Week 2 of the Exercises, whatever our individual calling is, however we are particularly called to take our place in building God’s kingdom, our ultimate model of Christian discipleship is Jesus. And we get to know someone by spending time with them. So Jesus is both the person we are invited to labor with and the model for us in our response.
In the context of Week 2 of the Exercises, the grace Ignatius asks retreatants to pray for is heartfelt knowledge of Jesus, who has become human for me so that I may love him and follow him more closely. (I sometimes refer to it as the Godspell grace, for those who remember the song Day by Day from that play: “see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly.”)
So what we seek in praying with the Second Week of the Exercises is greater awareness of Jesus. I want to know more and more about him. In the words of Louis Savary, Ignatius wants us to get “inside Jesus, to become so immersed in the thoughts, words, emotions and actions of Jesus that we know what it is to think and live like Jesus.”
And so we take time – a lot of time (the Second Week is the longest segment of the Exercises being with Jesus from his birth and throughout his public ministry. Walking with him, talking to him, learning from him.
How have you taken time to get to know Jesus? Really know him.
Note that this is a the eleventh in a series of posts in celebration of the Ignatian Year, which began on May 20 of this year.