He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?“
And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Some years ago I asked a Jesuit friend and coworker, Fr. Daniel Flaherty, SJ, to serve as my spiritual director. Fr. Dan—then in his late 70s—agreed, and we got started on a variation of St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises for busy people called the 19th annotation.
At the start, Fr. Dan did what any good director does—he put me at ease. “Listen,” he said with his booming voice, “there’s nothing complicated about the spiritual life. What it comes down to is this: God loves you. Do you love God? If so, are you ready to commit your life to him?
As Fr. Dan and I worked together for the next few months, things seemed to be going well. Drawing from graduate training in theology and many years in Catholic publishing, I was in a solid groove of reflecting on the prescribed passages and doing the daily Examen before bed. My weekly conversations with Fr. Dan were consistently lively and rich.
Then, one week after I’d summarized my thoughts on the material, Fr. Dan leaned back in his chair and said, “That’s all great, but I don’t hear you talking about feeling called by Jesus. What do you think Jesus wants of you at this moment, and are you willing to answer his call? Are you willing to follow him to the cross and beyond?”
Fr. Dan was right. After months of reading and reflecting, I still was approaching God from a distance. I could read all kinds of signs, but I was missing some of the most important ones. “Look,” he said, “I get it; my whole Jesuit life I’ve been the world’s best meditator. And I can talk about Scripture till the cows come home. But that’s not the point. The point is to get to know Jesus.”
As I learn how to be a companion of Christ, another piece of advice from Fr. Dan helps greatly: “Try to love others as Jesus loves you, and check in twice a day to see if you’re living the life Christ wants you to live.”
—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.
Lord, where will I see your face this day? Where will I pause and ask for your direction? Where do I need your grace to listen better, to focus more on giving than receiving, and to slow down so I recognize the abundant gifts in my life? And when the day draws to a close, let me answer with a bold affirmation, “Yes, because of You, I brought a little more care, a little more happiness, and a little more hope to those whose journey weaved into the framework of my day.
—Jesuit Prayer Team