Grace: To choose always what will allow for a deepening of Christ’s life in me and be a benefit to my own happiness and the good of the Church.
Reflection: This week has clearly been a week that has been marked by choices. The Exercises have been all about setting us up to make choices. The Church and the world witnessed the election of a new Vicar of Christ—a historic choice in itself, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis is a man who has been formed by the Exercises and in his first homily to the College of Cardinals, in what appeared to be a reference to the Two Standards, he spoke about the choice that we must all make to either profess Jesus Christ or the worldliness of the devil.
The foundation of our lives as Christians is an encounter with God through a man named Jesus Christ, both God and man. We can choose to live as His followers or we can adopt the name Christian as a mere identity, treating it as any other identity that we can acquire and discard at whim. We can choose either life, the way of Christ, or death, the result of the ways of a leader who thrives on trickery and deceitful lies. We can choose to be near Christ and walk with Him in all that we do or we can distance ourselves from Him out of fear because of the requirement that we detach ourselves from the world and its ways. We can focus on the fact that we are loved by Christ and allow our spiritual lives dwell there or motivated by love, we can move towards our complete conversion to Christ, a conversion that requires greater sacrifices on our part but leads to sharing in the victory won by Christ on the Cross. We can choose to collaborate in a reform of the Church or not. We can choose to be faithful to our baptismal promises and live a life inspired by the Spirit and compassion for others or we can choose to be unfaithful and apathetic towards those around us.
“Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me,” says Christ (Matthew 16:24). This week we have meditated on what those words of Christ mean. We have begun to know a man who now sits at the head of the Church who has lived these words as a faithful priest and servant of the poor. Whether or not we choose to hear the words spoken by Christ and live them, allowing ourselves to share in the suffering and triumph of Christ – that is the choice we must make. As you look over the week, which meditation stands out as one where you felt closest to Christ and the most willing to follow Him? Revisit this moment, and allow yourself to listen to what it is that Christ has to say to you.