Today is Sunday and on Sundays it is really easy for me to see God at work in everything on Sunday. God is in the mass. God is in the Eucharist. God is in the songs. God is the prayers. Sundays were made for God. I feel like I saw God a million times today.
St. Ignatius taught us many ways in which we can connect deeper with God. One of those ways is through finding God in all things. Another way is through the spiritual exercises*.St. Ignatius structured the Spiritual Exercises into what are referred to as “weeks.” Now, these are not seven day weeks, but rather, steps or stages on a spiritual pathway. Through the exercises, there are prayers. There are two primary methods of Ignatian prayer: meditation and contemplation. You can think of meditation as centered on the mind and contemplation is centered around feeling. Contemplative prayer is praying through the scriptures.
Today’s Gospel reading comes Mark’s Gospel (MK6:1-6):
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, “Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Now, if we were using our imagination to pray through the scripture, we could imagine how Jesus felt coming back to his hometown and immediately getting dismissed. Was there a time when you were rejected by those in your community? What did that feel like?
When I heard this Gospel being read I felt frustrated. I put myself in the context of scripture. Everyone saw the miracles Jesus had done, but yet people STILL did not believe Him to be who He said He was.
When I was hearing the Gospel reading, I couldn’t help but remember when I came back to the Catholic Church and started getting involved with our parish. It felt very frustrating to me that even though, by rite of my baptism, I was/have been a Catholic my ENTIRE life, I was still being referred to as a “baby Catholic.” Receiving the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation made me complete. I was part of the family and not just a spectator, yet I still felt out of sorts.
Though I am not Jesus, I can fathom, to some extent, his frustration. I share with Jesus his humanity and in our humanity comes raw, human, emotions. These emotions we experience give us an opportunity for growth while deepening our connection with God.
What I felt during the Gospel reading was frustration and I prayed through the reading, “Lord, what are you trying to show me through this emotion?” I was shown that each of us have times in our lives when we might feel rejected from our community.
How might we able to reach out to those who feel out of sorts?
When have we not seen or not heard?
How might we see or hear others in our community?
*Note: I am not a Jesuit priest (duh!) and I have not been trained (professionally) in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius (yet!). I do not claim to be an expert on this topic.