The “Second Week”: Week Fourteen/Session One.
Theme: The Hidden Life of Jesus.
Our reading for today: Luke 2: 39-40.
When they finished everything required by God in the Law, they (Mary & Joseph) returned to Galilee and their own town, Nazareth. There the child grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on Him. (Luke 2: 39-40 MsgB)
As we stated last week, St. Ignatius suggests that those of us joining him on his adventure through the Spiritual Exercises, stop regularly along the way to contemplate the stories surrounding Jesus of Nazareth. Ignatius talks about using our holy imagination as we ponder the New Testament texts, placing ourselves smack-dab in the middle of the stories we are reading.
As I see it, the Christmas stories, which we’ve just completed, are fairly easy for us to imagine. I mean, who can’t picture themselves standing amongst the lowly shepherds at the manger, or watching the wise men from the East bow in reverence before the newborn babe? But this week, our assignment is to contemplate the ‘hidden years’ of Jesus. Father O’Brien, in our excellent guidebook The Ignatian Adventure suggests that we “ask the Spirit to show us what Jesus was like growing up. (Accompanying our Lord) as a friend, relative, or neighbor in Nazareth.” In other words, I guess this week we can just let our imaginations go with Jesus. Now this could be fun!
So what was it like for Jesus, growing up as a child in small-town Israel? Did He enjoy hanging around His dad’s carpentry business in Nazareth? Did He learn to use a saw and a hammer just like you and me? What was the first piece He made? A Christmas ornament for the tree made out of popsicle sticks He cut Himself?
Or what about the times He was working on a project Joseph had assigned Him? What about the times He’d hit His thumb with that big hammer? Did Jesus cuss? And if He did…did He take His own name in vain?
Whoops. I got off track there. Sorry.
We do know for a fact that Jesus eventually had other siblings around the house. So what was big brother Jesus like? Did He share a room with His brothers? And did they fight and argue like most brothers and sisters do? Did they throw pillows at each other, tell ghost stories at night, and pick their noses?
In other words, was Jesus a typical kid?
Hmm. Did Jesus have pimples?
Sorry. I did it again.
So what about His spirituality? Was Jesus a typical youngster who had to be coaxed out of bed each Saturday morning to go to synagogue? Did He really go through bar mitzvah and attend a Jewish grammar school? Oy Vey! And what about His grades? Did He ever flunk a math test, like I often did?
Yet remember. In today’s text it says this about the young man, Jesus…
And the child grew and became strong; He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on Him. (Luke 2: 40 NIV)
So maybe I should put away all those adolescent thoughts about Jesus and His first date, Jesus and His first kiss, and especially, Jesus and His girl friend at the Nazareth drive-in movie theatre!
Yikes. This is gonna be harder than I thought!
Oh well, join us next time as we continue this part of our journey with the young man, Jesus!
My prayer: Father God, this one is gonna be hard. I have so many religious obstacles that keep me from imagining the ‘real-life’ Jesus of Nazareth. Yet, I’m convinced that if I can allow my imagination to flow, with the help of Your Divine Providence, I can come in touch with the true Jesus…the fully human, fully divine Lord of all. Holy Spirit, enable me. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So as I allow myself to fully embrace the reality of a teenage Jesus, where can the Holy Spirit take me? If I give myself the permission to go there, what insightful truths can I return with? Truths that just might enable me to better appreciate the full humanity of my Lord and Savior, Jesus of Nazareth?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.
Consider supporting us here at The Contemplative Activist. You can help create a growing market for the ancient art of Christ-centered contemplative activism. Not through big publishers or big denominations, but through grassroots movements like ours. We believe true reformation of the church could occur by encouraging the growth of contemplative activist voices in the Christian marketplace. Even one dollar will help the cause. THANK YOU.