Grace: an intimate knowledge of our Lord, Who has become man for me, that I may love Him more and follow Him more closely.
Reflection: During the “First Week” of the Exercises, we heard Christ’s call to repentance and reformation of life. In that week we gain a “felt knowledge” that God has created us in His love and redeemed us in Christ. He never abandons us. No, He goes so far as to search us out in order to bring us back to a fuller and more abundant life in His presence.
But the call to reform one’s life is not the only call we hear from God. Looking at the example of Jesus, we see that Christ was in constant conversation with his Father. Tired from an exhausting day of proclamation and ministry, he went off to a quiet place and spoke with his Father in heaven. From there, the Father sent Jesus out in the Spirit to minister to the people, to gather disciples, to move to new towns, and finally to journey toward Jerusalem. God’s continual call is not lacking to us, either. Like Jesus, we also will hear the Father’s voice, provided we have ears to hear.
Today we pray with the apostles who experienced the manifold call of God. As St. Ignatius points out, the apostles first became acquainted with the person of Jesus and then heard his call to repentance. They experienced the “first week” as John the Baptist and Jesus preached repentance through the hillside of Galilee. The apostles, however, heard yet another call: leave all behind and follow me. In the mystery of the Trinitarian design for the world, these particular people were called to extraordinary tasks in furthering the kingdom of God.
Notice while praying with the call stories that there is nothing to recommend the apostles over others, unless one counts fishing as the most exalted profession. St. Ignatius assumes that they are simple and uneducated men. Yet Christ’s call raised them to a great dignity. Do we think ourselves unworthy of the call of Christ? Of course we are. We know that enduring the difficulties of following Christ’s particular call is beyond our own strength. We need God’s assistance. That is exactly what Christ is offering in these stories.
Remember that the grace sought during the “second week” of the Exercises is a deep interior knowledge of Jesus so that, loving Him, we might grow in our desire to follow His call. Let this grace remain within you as you continue through the second week.