2019 BOOKS


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Seeing God Working

By Paul W Hoffmaster

Jesus' relationship with His Heavenly Father was a human/divine interaction that began in the early part of His earthly life. At the age of twelve, Jesus spent over three days sharing with the learned religious leaders in the Temple. He was so zealous of God's Word that He did not even realize that His earthly family had left for home after the conclusion of the Feast of the Passover. When Mary and Joseph realized Jesus was not among the family caravan, they returned to Jerusalem where they found Jesus in the midst of the doctors of the Law. After being rebuked for causing His parents to worry, Jesus simply told them that He must be about His Father's business. For the next eighteen years, Jesus submitted unto His parents while growing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:41-52) Ever wonder why Jesus didn't start His ministry earlier? Why wait until He was thirty years old? The calling and commissioning of a servant is all in God's timing. I believe that preparation precedes presentation. Many of the problems in Christianity today are a result of self-initiation instead of waiting on the Lord. Many ministries are ill- prepared to present Divine Truth and, as a result, preach pleasing messages to the itching ears of their flocks. (II Timothy 4:3)

The success of Jesus' ministry was directly related to His interaction with His Heavenly Father. He was so much in sync with God that He would say to Philip, "... He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." (John 14:9) I wonder how many people see Jesus in us. He was so attached to God that He acknowledged that He could do nothing left to Himself. Can we make that same claim today? It is amazing what can be achieved when we acknowledge that it is God that works in us, both to will and to do his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13) Jesus saw God in every situation. He saw God touching the eyes of the blind. He saw Him opening the ears of the deaf. He saw afflictions flee the bodies of people. He saw the dead raised. It was all possible for He knew the compassion of God. When Jesus was with God and in God (John 1:1) He saw the needs of the people and God responding. When God saw and heard the cries of the children of Israel who were in bondage in Egypt, He stated that He would come down and set them free. (Exodus 3:7, 8) He did, but it would be through Moses. (Exodus 3:10) God told Moses that He would be with him. (Exodus 3:11) In effect, Moses saw God working, so it was his position to act on what God had already declared. In the same way, Jesus would be the representative figure of God to the people. As God saw the Jews bound not only by Roman oppression but also by religious "slavery," He sent Jesus. What Jesus did, in reality, was what God was doing through His love for the world.

During those eighteen years of preparation, Jesus would consume the Divine will of God. He would picture God's pre-ordained plan and put it into action. He saw God's will and became the physical fulfillment of what He saw. How do we see God in this world? Do we see Him working? Do we see His compassion? Do we hear Him acknowledging man's call for help? If we do, when are we going to reach out as the hands of our Creator and bring deliverance? More and more, I am seeing that our vision is limited to the problems of life instead of the solution to life.

Many Christians are so addicted to negative news that their spiritual temperature has plummeted. Jesus saw God's actions and duplicated it. We need to see what Jesus' did and duplicate His works. The reason we are not seeing more evidence of God's presence is we are not evidencing what our spiritual eyes are showing us. The field is ripe for harvest. How is your vision? What are we waiting for!

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola – Second Week: Meditation on Three Kinds of Humility

by Peter W. Syves, SJ, MD

A Faith That Does Justice engages The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola[i] (Exercises) to discern God’s will and live faith in action on behalf of all God’s people. When appropriately adapted they offer a way for all people of good will to do the same.

A Meditation on Two Standards asked us to choose for or against Jesus and his work on behalf of the kingdom of God. Presuming we have opted for Jesus, Ignatius offers two additional meditations during the Second Week, Three Kinds of People[ii] and Three Kinds of Humility.[iii] They are intended to help us recognize the depth of our commitment to active discipleship with Jesus. This article addresses the meditation on Three Kinds of Humility.

Three Kinds of Humility

Three Kinds of Humility offers three ways of loving God, one building upon another, that culminate in complete identification with Jesus’ life. The first kind of humility, moral behavior that is commonly expressed in fidelity to the Ten Commandments, while good, lacks sufficient depth for discipleship with Jesus. The second kind of humility, a life grounded in indifference to created things and dedicated to discerning God’s will, overcomes the insufficiency of the first kind of humility. The third kind of humility is a God-given grace of complete identification with Jesus that only a few will ever experience. It is the second kind of humility that is essential for following Jesus in this world.

First Kind of Humility[iv]

People with the first kind of humility manifest their relationship with God through normative moral behavior that is commonly expressed in fidelity to the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:2-17; Deut 5:6-21). They recognize the primacy of God in their lives and avoid any actions that would result in sin so serious as to completely sever relationship with God (mortal sin). While this kind of humility is essential to the moral life, it leads to a juridical or formulaic relationship with God that has only a superficial commitment to discerning God’s will and following Jesus in this world. Consequently, although good, the first kind of humility is insufficient for discipleship with Jesus.

Second Kind of Humility[v]

In addition to fidelity to normative moral behavior (the Ten Commandments), people with the second kind of humility also live with the inner freedom to put aside self-interest and acquire the indifference to created things that is necessary to discern God’s will in every aspect of their lives. For this reason, they are vigilant in avoiding both serious (i.e., mortal) and lesser (i.e., venial) sin, so as not to hinder their deepening relationship with God. This level of humility is verifiable in its openness to the promptings of the Spirit and in its authentic desire to act upon them. Consequently, the second kind of humility has the indifference to created things that is necessary to discern God’s will and follow Jesus in this world.

Third Kind of Humility[vi]

In addition to fidelity to normative moral behavior and the indifference to created things necessary to discern God’s will, those with the third kind of humility also seek to imitate Jesus’ life.

They desire and choose poverty with Christ poor, rather than riches; insults with Christ loaded with them, rather than honors; and to be accounted as worthless and a fool for Christ, rather than to be esteemed as wise and prudent in this world. For Christ was treated this way before them.

This is the most perfect expression of humility and it leads to Christ-like union with God through its expression of profound love of God and neighbor. While all may aspire to this level of humility, not all will attain it. It is an unmerited gift from God that has been witnessed to only by some people throughout the ongoing flow of history.[vii]

The third kind of humility transforms the indifference to all created things that Ignatius asks for in the Principle and Foundation, to an intentional preference to live as Jesus did, poor and humble, and focused on God’s will and the work of the kingdom of God. It also builds upon the disposition of the third kind of people in the meditation on Three Kinds of People who have the inner freedom to put aside self-interest in order to achieve the indifference to created things that is necessary to discern God’s will and follow Jesus in this world, to now actively desire to imitate Jesus in his poverty, in the insults he endured for preaching the good news of the kingdom of God, and in the humility he manifested for welcoming the most vulnerable in his midst.

When the Three Kinds of Humility are considered in light of A Meditation on Two Standards and Three Kinds of People it is clear that the call to follow, even imitate, Jesus involves more than taking on his poverty, suffering, and humility. It also necessitates the courage to place ourselves in the midst of the suffering of others, and once there to act, both in word and action, by incarnating his love, compassion and justice in a world still so in need of redemption.

Ignatius suggests that before we engage the contemplations of Jesus’ public ministry, whose intent is to have us come to know him more fully, love him more deeply, and commit to following him in discipleship, that we reflect on the Three Kinds of Humility, considering even a sincere desire to attain complete identification with Jesus.[viii]

If one desires to attain this third kind of humility, it will help very much to use the same triple colloquy (conversation) of A Meditation on Two Standards. There, we asked in succession, Mary, Jesus and the God of creation, for the grace to be received under the standard of Christ, first in the highest spiritual poverty, and even in actual poverty; secondly, in bearing insults and wrongs, thereby to imitate him better, provided only we can suffer these without sin on the part of another, and without offense of the Divine Majesty.[ix]

As in the meditation on Three Kinds of People, let us continue to pray for the courage to discern God’s will and allow the Spirit to lead us to wherever God will have us go to act with Jesus on behalf of the unfinished work of the kingdom of God.

[i] The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola are a series of Christian contemplations and meditations written by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a 16th century Spanish priest and founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Divided into four thematic "weeks" of variable length, they are designed to be carried out over a period of approximately 30 days. They were composed to help participants in religious retreats to discern the will of God and commit to following Jesus in this world whatever the cost. When appropriately adapted, they can also help people of other faith traditions discern God’s will and engage problems facing society in the 21st century.

[ii] Puhl, L. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1951), Sections 149-56.

[iii] Ibid., Sections 165-67.

[iv] Ibid., Section 165.

[v] Ibid., Section 166.

[vi] Ibid., Section 167.

[vii] Some would include Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero and Mother Teresa of Calcutta as examples of the third kind of humility.

[viii] The three meditations of the Second Week are also intended to reflect upon the election of a way of life or the deepening of a commitment to one already chosen.

[ix] Puhl, The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, Section 147.

About Fr. Gyves

FF Gyves is a member of the Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He is founder and director of A Faith That Does Justice, Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts.


2019 CALENDARS



Consider God's Word

By Gerjo Ben Van Der Merwe 

Often people ask me to shorten the pieces we send out. I ask why? "It takes too long to read through it. "Then I ask, "How long does it take you to read it?" "Maybe 5 minutes." "Is that the only time you have for God in your busy day?" I ask softly. Usually there's no response to that.

When my wife comes to me and says the computer has done something funny and all her stuff is gone, my response is always the same: "Garbage in. Garbage out." What you put in, is what you get out.

The same is true of our relationship with God. If we put little in, we can expect little back.

So many people ask me what they have to do. Should they apply for a new job? Should they break up or not? Will they go to hell if they have sex before marriage? What is God's will for their lives? And much more.

Then I ask them: "How much time do you spend in God's Word?" Usually, there's no response to this question, because it's mostly too little to mention.

I suspect our lives look like they do because we simply spend too little time in God's Word. How can we know what God's will for our lives is if we do not meet with Him every day?

And I include myself in this.

So many mornings I get up early to spend time with God. So many mornings I first take a quick look at my emails and "quickly" answer them. Have a "quick" look at the news platforms. Quickly check the bank balance. And when I get caught up in the social networks, it's goodbye. Before I know it, it's time for breakfast and I have to drop the kids at school.

And my relationship with God has not grown one inch. On the contrary, it has shrunk, because the less energy I put into a relationship, the bigger the chances that it will become superficial and artificial.

Any relationship needs time and energy. Including our relationship with God. Remember, it's not God who has to change in this relationship, it's us. We have to learn and change. Our faith and trust must be built up.

Therefore, this instruction: 7Think it over. God will make it all plain.

It's clear: Read the words in God's Word. Read the stories and learn. Read the instructions and do. Read the words again and again and let it change your thoughts, words and actions.

It brings us back to Nike's slogan: Just do it!

Together with the instruction comes a promise: God will do his part in the relationship. He will help you understand what you read. He will help open up the knowledge in his Word. He will help you make it part of your being. He will give you the strength to do it.

And then you will know what choice to make at every crossroads in your life. Then you will know exactly what God's will for your life is.

Scripture

2 Tim 2:1-7

Reflection

Do you know God's will for your life?

Do you spend enough time in God's Word?

What can you do differently?

Prayer

Father, I have to confess that I do not make enough time for You in my life. I realize I don't know enough of Your will for my life. I long to spend more time with You. Please help me to have an appointment with You every day. Amen.

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2019 SPIRITUAL BOOKS