Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent Retreat -- Day 3

Matthew 4:18-22
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The First Disciples

18 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He *said to them, “[a]Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there He saw two other brothers, [b]James the son of Zebedee, and [c]John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

I am going to try something this Advent. I need structure in my blogging, and I may have found it. Thanks to my Jesuits, of course:

So, each day, I am to spend some time praying with scripture...not an easy task for me. I picked the right day though...this is a story I can get behind. Today's assignment is to pray with this passage using Ignatian Contemplation, which asks that we enter into the story and see it as an eyewitness, hear it right from Jesus' mouth, and try to imagine what it would feel like if He was talking to us.

I've always loved the line about "fishers of men," sexism be damned. Even before I really understood it, I liked the turn of phrase (this was before I knew what a turn of phrase was of course). This scene is a good place to start my Advent journey because I enter into this scene easily. I am standing behind Jesus, watching him walk up to the shore, hearing His call to these disciples. They recognize something in him, clearly. They drop what they are doing...they drop their lives, to follow this man.

Two thoughts came to me as I read, reread and reflected a bit on this passage. First, I started singing "You Are Mine" to myself.
"come and follow me, I will bring you home...I love you and you are mine"

This is their call. Jesus is offering them a life with him...and from the looks of things here, they know very little--if anything--about him. And yet they are willing to leave everything--homes, families, their own identities--to follow this person. "Fishers of men"?! What does that even mean? They must have been confused...but something inside must have told them that there were bigger things ahead.

I think about the people in my own life who draw others to them...whose light is so strong, so enchanting, so beautiful, so powerful that others are willing to follow them. Not blindly, but with an unspoken understanding that they will be safe and treasured and valued. It is that light that Peter, Andrew, James, and John saw and trusted when they dropped their nets. And that is why I know them, why they are familiar to me and why I see myself in that scene. When someone has the light of the Creator, of God, shining so brightly from their core, you are willing to follow, to listen, to go with them on a journey. It wasn't grand promises of fame and fortune that had these disciples leaving all that they knew; it was the promise of community, of connection, of relationship. Who doesn't want that?

The Advent Retreat asks that we also pray in the tradition of Ignatius Loyola at the end of our reflection by praying the Examen.
Loving God, today I am ever so grateful for my friends...for the community that I have created for myself, for the time and space to be with these friends, even in the difficult moments.

I am grateful for a teacher who did not meet my student's disrespectful and threatening "test" with anger or malice, but instead with patience and grace. Even though he didn't understand what was happening, he was able to handle the situation without escalating it and in a way that may allow him to build a relationship with this student in the future.

Please help me to better manage the time with which you have blessed me. Help me with focus and attention.

I hope I was able to show my friend some of your love, compassion, understanding and empathy today. She needed it, and I tried to give it without reservation or second-guessing my own reactions.

Forgive me for the times I fall short with my patience, or spend my time, energy and focus on things that don't deserve it as much as my work and my students do. Give me the strength and the patience for SM, TH, MM and more.
I look forward to being a better reflection of you to all I see.

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