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…)
Grace: To have an intimate knowledge of our Lord, Who has become man for me, that I may love Him more and follow Him more closely.
Reflection: For the past two weeks, Jesus has been preparing. He has come onto the scene, He has gathered His forces, presented His strategy and that of the Enemy. Now, with His baptism, the Divine King begins His campaign to overcome the enemies of His Father, and starts His public ministry.
In starting His public ministry, Jesus announces to the people that the promises that the Father made in the Old Testament to bring good news to the afflicted, set captives free, and give sight to the blind “is being fulfilled today” (Lk. 4:21). The covenant God made with His people is presently coming to fruition, and the hope that it gives is embodied in Jesus. On top of this, the fulfillment of these promises is not a secret to be kept and passed on solely among a select few initiates. Jesus does not hide Himself in some distant place, but goes out to be with us. Jesus begins His public ministry to proclaim the news, and to do so in synagogues, streets, and villages all throughout Judea. He and His apostles will eagerly share this news with anyone willing to listen.
Grace: For an intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord who chose to be like us in every way except sin. To be moved with compassion for those in need.
Text of Prayer: Matthew 3:11-17
Reflection: Speaking about the Baptism of Jesus, Maximus of Turin, one of the Church Fathers said: “What sort of a baptism is this, when the one who is dipped is purer than the font … And in which the streams are made pure more than they purify?” The question begs an examination of the meaning and purpose of Jesus’s Baptism.
The importance of this event is manifested in the fact that it is recorded in all four Gospels. The Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark and Luke—have accounts of the Baptism, while John, rather than having a direct narrative simply bears witness to the event. Throughout the centuries, several aspects have been considered about the moment Jesus went to the Jordan to receive baptism from John the Baptist. Commentary on and exegesis of the Gospels reveal that Jesus’ Baptism is the entrance into his public life. His Baptism is also the moment when Jesus is anointed by the Holy Spirit and driven into the desert to pray, fast and be tested. In many ways, his Baptism reveals the path of abasement and humility that the Son of God freely chose in order to adhere to the plan of the Father.
Grace: For an intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord who chose to be like us in every way except sin.
Text for Prayer: Mt. 3:11-17 Place yourself in the scene.
In a restless world that competes for riches, honors, and pride, a world of cage fighters trying to knock out their opponents while others cheer on, we can find rest and refreshment by the Jordan River.
People line up seeking the cool waters of baptism of John the Baptist, renouncing their sins and resolving to direct all their strivings toward something more than pleasure, success, and good fortune. There is a thirst that only a humble submission to the Divine through sincere repentance can quench.
Jesus arrives on the scene and His exchange with John is refreshingly counter-cultural. There seems to be a competition, but here humility is the game and God’s will is the prize. John has many followers, but without any hesitation, he steps aside for a mightier One’s arrival. Jesus is the Son of God, free from sin, yet He receives the baptism of a sinner for sinners. John’s humility makes him resemble the Son of God, and Christ’s humility unites Him fully with humanity. It’s no surprise that these men are cousins! As John submits to Jesus’ request, Jesus submits to the Father’s request, and He is well pleased (with both of His sons).
Jesus commences His public ministry with a profound act of humility, showing us that no talent, no career, no effort, no fight, and no accomplishment is greater than choosing what God has chosen for us.
“Do not deny your talents or your successes. Rather, thank God that he uses you to do his work, just as an artist uses simple brushes to create a work of art.” –Servant of God, Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan
Grace: For an intimate knowledge of Jesus, who for me was baptized in order that I may be saved.
Text: Matthew 3:13-17
Reflection: There came a point in Jesus’ life when He made the decision to leave His home in order to fulfill His saving mission. Since His public ministry lasted about three years, and He died around the age of thirty-three, it is likely that Jesus stayed home until His late twenties or early thirties. As Luke says after Jesus decided to return to Nazareth with His parents instead of staying in the temple at twelve years old, “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Lk 2:52).
It is generally thought that by this time Joseph had passed away. Mary and Jesus had to fend for themselves. How hard it must have been for Jesus to depart! How much trust and faith He must have had in His Father! When we think of Jesus’ prayer leading up to this point, we can see how His determination to fulfill His mission must have grown with each moment. Jesus’ perfect unity with the Father through the Spirit led Him to this crucial decision: to leave Nazareth and set out for Jordan, where John was baptizing.