Saturday after Ash Wednesday
We come now to another rich young man, one who is quite different from the other. In the first young man we saw fidelity to the Law and love of God; here we see a tax collector who was, in today’s terms, seen as “the lowest of the low.” We can assume, as many in the Gospel’s attest, that he was not a devout follower of the Law, taking more money than he needed, cheating, lying and as a final insult to his own people, collaborating with the very Gentiles who had occupied the land of God’s people. Tax collectors of this kind were looked upon with great disdain, as we see later in today’s Gospel when the Pharisees criticize Jesus’ choice in company.
Yet in this particular rich young man we see something the former did not have: disdain for his wealth. The former man was invited by Jesus who, recognizing his goodness, invited him to sell all he had and follow Him; the man went away sad. Levi, rather, left “everything behind…got up and followed Him.” Rather than going away sad Levi gave a great banquet for Jesus in his own house, for in losing everything he came to find everything. St. Gemma Galgani perhaps captures Levi’s experience in these words of hers: “Often I seem to be alone, but really I have Jesus as a companion. I try to deprive myself of everything, but instead I find all. I shun all the pleasures of life, and I happen on one so great that I am utterly happy.”
Surely Levi, though he was rich, was dissatisfied with that wealth. In accumulating it he had estranged himself from his community and his God. Yet this God looked upon him, loved him and said to him, “Follow me.” He gave Levi the opportunity, as He gives each of us every day in the Eucharist, to turn away from the idols of wealth and pride, to return to our place as the beloved children of God, to be free of the chaos of sin’s disorder, to be chosen out of the world and brought into the Kingdom of God.
The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola are best suited for prayer during a silent retreat. However, Ignatius knew that they could also be effective when employed in a less isolated environment. It is the hope of the authors of this blog that you, the reader, find the meditations that we offer here useful in your own search to encounter Christ in prayer in your daily life. The meditations are intended to be prayed in order, from as close to the beginning as possible, perhaps over the course of a dedicated time such as the season of Lent. (more…)
It is not always easy to go back to something we have left behind, but the exercise of returning to a meditation or a grace that we have received during prayer can be immensely helpful. It is also a practice highly regarded by St. Ignatius himself, who says that “it is not much knowledge that fills and satisfies the soul, but the intimate understanding and relish of the truth.” On Saturdays during Lent, we will give you an opportunity to do precisely this. We invite you to go back over the prayers from the week that is ending in order to see where there is perhaps deeper fruit to be gleaned from the meditations, reflections, passages, and questions of the week. We hope that this is an exercises that will become second nature to you by the end of Lent, and—just like the twice-daily Examen—a weekend repetition can be an excellent way of coming to see more clearly where God has been moving and where we have been standing in his way. Let us then return to one of the meditations below and see what the Lord has to offer us. Again. (more…)