The “Second Week”: Week Seventeen/Session Three.
Theme: Meditation on Two Standards.
Our reading for today: Matthew 11: 27-30.
Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. “The Father has given Me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to Myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11: 27-30 MsgB)
I’ve heard it said that life is a series of choices that are made in this present moment.
Apparently, St. Ignatius fully understood the important choices each man or woman needs to make in order to stay the course in this life. And since making choices can, so very often, become clouded and unclear, Ignatius recommended that we simplify those difficult choices, whenever we can, by placing them under one of two “Standards” or banners. One banner, of course, would be the way of the world. A fleshly decision that always includes the questions, “What’s in it for me?” or “To hell with others, which choice is best for me?”
The other banner, of course, for Ignatius, was the way of the Lord and would include asking questions such as, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” or “What’s in the best interest of not only me, but those around me as well?”
As I see it, Ignatius was correct when he suggests that we simplify life’s choices whenever we can. And as I’ve attempted over the last few years to slow down a bit, taking an extra breath or two before jumping into the next hard decision, I’ve come back, again and again, to what I like to call Jesus’ Great Invitation found here in Matthew 11.
You’re probably very familiar with this text, as I was, reading it in the traditional translations with Jesus inviting His followers to take upon themselves His ‘yoke.’ And while those word pictures were somewhat helpful for me, there was a whole new level of understanding that came into my life when I began pondering Eugene Peterson’s transliteration of this text in his Message Bible. Let me quote the Great Invitation here, once again:
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
In truth, this one paragraph of Scripture has become for me in recent years, the most powerful invitation I’ve ever received in my life. Words just can’t do justice in telling you, my dear reader, how these few words of Christ have profoundly changed the way I now live, and move, and have my being. And as I reflect this week on Ignatius’ Two Standards, I’m realizing that this Great Invitation of the Master stands as the golden arch welcoming me into His Kingdom, His rule and reign, His way of living life down here on this darkened planet. For you see, there is, as Ignatius identified, an alternative way to living life when one says “No, thank You” to Jesus’ Great Invitation found here in Matthew 11. And that alternative is to stay with one’s self, trusting upon our own understanding, making life’s many choices using the questions I mentioned earlier.
“What’s in it for me?”
“To hell with others, which choice is best for me?”
Or, worse yet, statements like…
“Damn the world, I want what I want.”
So my friends, my suggestion is that you and I spend the rest of our lives pondering and responding to this Great Invitation of Jesus, finding creative ways in saying a resounding “Yes” to this Invite every moment of every day. Forever and Ever. Amen.
My prayer: Jesus, when I read Your Great Invitation as found here in Matthew’s gospel, all other invitations in life seem pale and meaningless. I choose this day, this One Great Invitation to be the doorway to my life in You forever. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So what other ‘invitations’ are calling to me today? What practical steps do I need to take today to ‘pick up my life’ and place it squarely in the center of God’s will?
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.
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