"He was amazed at their lack of faith."
Our Gospel this weekend reveals both Jesus’ humanity and ours. His is recognized in that "He was amazed". To be amazed shows some kind of surprise, an unexpected happening. God the Son would not be amazed, knowing all things. It is Jesus in His full humanity that has a hard time believing people’s lack of belief. It would seem from His response that faith ought to come more naturally. That’s where our broken humanity comes in.
I have to say ‘broken’, because I believe that Jesus knows that a human being, given natural law and the gifted light of reason, should recognize the Divine at work. His own Nazarenes did not recognize Jesus’ work as Divine. They tried to explain it away by referring to his relatives that they knew. The ordinary, hidden life of Jesus, not hidden from his neighbors in Nazareth, was a reason given to not believe in Him. The thought that God would be united with a man in such a way was beyond the willingness to believe. They were not able to hold on to the faith that says,"All things are possible with God."
We of varying degrees of faith may face times where we’re not sure how much we believe, if at all. No need to panic. Jesus says, "Ask, and you will receive." One of the prayers that I say five times a day during my Ignatian Retreat is, "Lord, give me an interior knowledge of you, who became human for me, that I may love you more intensely and follow you more closely." This is bound to increase one’s faith. Jesus is faithful to His promise to respond to every sincere prayer.
Ignatius is big on asking for the grace that one desires and needs. Each meditation time begins with another prayer called the ‘Preparatory Prayer’, which "…is to ask God our Lord for the grace that all my intentions, actions, and operations may be ordered purely to the service and praise of the Divine Majesty." This really could be a daily prayer intention, or shall I say, a life intention.
As I shared last week, I’m now well into the ‘Second Week’ of the exercises, which actually have twelve days attached, depending on the director’s sense of what you are ready for. I’m on seventh day, which is a contemplation on the call of the first disciples. I’ve also been asked to review the origins and graces of my own call. It is well worth it to look back on what motivated and moved one to choose a vocation. Hopefully there were clear signs and indications of the Holy Spirit guiding your choice. If not, then God is present to renew or tweak your accordingly.
One of the most helpful meditations was on the ‘Three Classes of Persons’. Each person has come into 10 thousand ducats (Spanish currency), "…but not purely or properly for the love of God."They all want to be at peace with God, but deal with the situation differently. The first person wants to be rid of the attachment to the money, but "does not take the means, even to the hour of death." This is someone who knows what is right to do, but procrastinates, even until death!
The second person is someone who wants to get rid of the attachment but keep the money. This person is someone who is blessed, but uses their blessings on their own terms, not God’s. How often we might say, "Well, I’ll do such and such and then ask God’s blessing on my endeavor." God is not invited to influence the actual decision about how to act in a given situation; He only mops up the results, so to speak.
The third person, but wants a disposition that is free from the money, whether it is kept or not. Their desire is only to do God’s will and is busy seeking that will with an open heart and mind. The goal is whatever will "be better for the service and praise of the Divine Majesty." This is freedom and happiness. It is also a grace. We need supernatural help to maintain a freedom from creatures. Our weakness would tend toward security and pleasure, but God can strengthen us to where we are indifferent as to possessions except for how they may serve God or distract us from Him.
St. Ignatius closes with a‘colloquy’, a short prayer, beginning with Our Lady, that she might "obtain former grace from her Son and Lord that I may be received under his standard; and first, in the most perfect spiritual poverty; and also, if his Divine Majesty should be served and if he should wish to choose me for it, to not less a degree of actual poverty; and second, in bearing reproaches and injuries, that through them I may imitate him more, if only I can do this without sin on anyone’s part and without displeasure to the Divine Majesty." May God grant us this grace. I continue to pray for all of you.