Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter
The end of May and early June usually signals a time of change. Winter has subsided into a memory, graduations inaugurate new phases in young people’s lives, and summer signals a change of pace.
Change certainly marked the life of the community of those who followed Christ when Paul started preaching to the Gentiles. Paul understood the full meaning of Christ’s preaching when he understood that all humanity is called into a special relationship with God through Christ in union with the Holy Spirit. What caused some turbulence with this new insight was Paul’s insistence of the essential character of this message and not so much in the traditional ways in which the community in the past had expressed its union with God.
Of course the turbulence caused by Paul’s insight is the constant turbulence experienced by the church today. What is the fundamental message of the Church, what are the necessary expressions of this message, and what are the ways of expressing this message that are more culturally bound and hence not completely essential to the expression of the faith? These questions are basis of much discussion in the church today. Jesuit history provides an incredible source of stories of men who brought the gospel and attempted to leave behind their own world view of how this gospel should be introduced. What Jesuit history does teach us is that the Jesuits attempted to navigate between two points that were clear in the Spiritual Exercises: one being the importance of a well-informed conscience making a decision, the other was compliance (thinking and feeling with the church) with the mind of the church. It is for this reason that so many of the early Jesuits saw in Paul a model for their lives.