Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Still Duped After All These Years


My life as a Jesuit is a constant process of discovery. Often that discovery involves learning in greater depth the extent to which the Lord has duped me. God never tires of reminding me that he was far more aware of what he was doing when he called me to this life then I ever was in responding. Take something as simple as the religious community I joined--the Society of Jesus. Why did I become a Jesuit, and not something else? I know that one thing that attracted me was the Society of Jesus' reputation as educators. There was also something a little more intuitive that had something to do with my love for the movie "The Mission." And, finally, it was because when I received the promotional material in the mail something just seemed to fit. It was not because out of some great devotion to Jesus Christ, I just had to be a member of the Society of Jesus.

Yet, lately I am starting to become more convinced that this didn't just happen to be the name of the religious community I joined. There was a reason Jesus called me to this religious community which bears his name. I can't speak for every other Jesuit, but for me that "S.J." after my name indicates that I have a particular responsibility to represent and introduce others to Jesus Christ, the center and focus of our Jesuit spirituality, and of my life. I am starting to feel an especial sense of urgency in these days when evangelization seems to be getting a bad name. If we hesitate to speak of Jesus for fear of offending someone, it seems to me that we've given into the worst of lies--that somehow the "Christian" thing to do is to keep from others the one who animates all that we are and do, that to do otherwise might somehow amount to unjust coercion. To be a member of the Society of Jesus does not mean that I'm to keep Jesus to myself, as if he were only for those who belong to the club. No, I'm to share with others who I am, and I am first and foremost a member of Jesus' company.

I have not always been so convinced of this, and certainly was not at the beginning of this journey. But more and more God is revealing to me why, as he did with that first Jesuit Ignatius of Loyola, he desired that I be placed with his Son. My sense is that it is because as a Church and as a civilization we may be reaching a crossroads where the challenge is to refocus on Jesus, or risk losing our way. I suspect that, though it is not always so clear what he meant by this, this was the type of intuition that led John Paul II to urgently insist on the need for "new evangelization." As is the case with my vocation, it may be that we are only just beginning to know what this means. But I think there is little doubt of the fundamental content of this new evangelization--who we must be convinced is somehow good news for all--Jesus Christ.

5 Comments:

Blogger The Ironic Catholic said...

That has to be the best post title I've heard in a while. Thanks for the reflection.

It always amazes me that just when I think God is "done" with the big spiritual movements in my life, something new happens. This journey has bottomless depths.

7:09 PM  
Blogger David said...

Mark, glad to see you back online! I'm always glad to see members of religious orders who understand something about why they're in that order and not another.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

I don't know Jesus at all, despite all my years of Catholic schooling (now a distant memory.) What inklings I do have of faith are when I have conversations with the Father. Many of us have a need to come closer to those who follow Jesus, to see what it might all be about. Your posting was a hopeful one.

8:42 PM  
Blogger bbira said...

Dear Mark...your thoughts as to why you had to be a Jesuit hit home to me. If all of us would take up the Jesuit charism to live our Catholic faith fully...to not just be a Sunday Catholic but an everyday Catholic and to reach out, constantly, and truly live our beautiful faith as Christ bearers. Maybe this is what is truly meant by "the Church Militant". Imagine the changes for the better we could make if we all truly lived, without hesitancy or embarrassment, our faith in the best way possible for all of us and for the world around us. I pray daily for you and all the Jesuits because you set such an example for the rest of us of truly living our faith in Jesus Christ.
God Bless and Peace Always...Bill

12:05 PM  
Blogger Fidei Defensor said...

"If we hesitate to speak of Jesus for fear of offending someone, it seems to me that we've given into the worst of lies--that somehow the "Christian" thing to do is to keep from others the one who animates all that we are and do, that to do otherwise might somehow amount to unjust coercion."

Thank you for this posting! That above passage was something I just had to read tonite!

10:33 PM  

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