Grace: To deepen the sense of my “open-handedness” and generosity with what the Lord has given me.
Text for prayer: Lk. 12:35-48
Reflection: Still in the context of a kind of pause within the Exercises wherein we consider the state of life that the Lord calls us to and in the immediate wake of the meditation on the Two Standards, we continue the reflection on what it means to follow Christ. What kind of a person does it take? What are we in for in casting our lot with Him. At this point, St. Ignatius proposes a consideration of what he calls the three classes, or kinds of people. This consideration is an aide for our own self-understanding and should be a prompting forward for us to engage head-on where it is that we need conversion in our own lives so that we might be able to follow Christ more freely and whole-heartedly.
The image that St. Ignatius uses to illustrate these three classes of people is that each has acquired great wealth and each knows that he or she must get rid of the money in order to do God’s will. This meditation is not so much about the need to get rid of money, but the money is a simple sign which points to whatever it is that we cling to in our lives which takes our affections away from the Lord who loves us.
The first “class” is comprised of those who postpone, even until death, what they know the call of the Lord to be. They know they must become free of the attachment. They want to become free, but they “never take the means” to accomplish that freedom. They remain attached and bound to what keeps them from the Lord.
The second type of persons to consider is the kind who compromise on what they know to be the desire of the Lord for them. They act in a kind of partial response, but they still hold back something for themselves. Perhaps they will do something good with what they’re attached to and in that sense, might be somehow “of God”, but still, the bottom line is that they cannot let go of what they are attached to and they are implicitly insisting that “God must come to where this person desires” and not the other way around. There is still disorder here, even though some efforts in a good direction are made.
Finally, the third class is made up of those who have become utterly free to respond to the call of the Lord. Characteristic of this group is that “indifference” St. Ignatius described at the beginning of the Exercises in the “Principle and Foundation.” Interestingly enough, this type in St. Ignatius’ illustration doesn’t necessarily get rid of the money. Instead, they are free enough to either keep it or get rid of it, but their attention has shifted entirely to what God wants, and not what he or she wants. They are in a position of receptivity here as to what God desires and they have made their own desire only that which greater serves the Divine Majesty.
Questions for reflection: What might I “let go” of in my life for the sake of greater freedom in following Jesus? What am I clinging to that prevents me from being free and happy in the Lord’s sight? What are the compromises I am currently making in this regard?