The “Second Week”: Week Nineteen/Session Two.
Theme: Three Ways of Loving.
Our reading for today: Luke 7: 1-10.
When He finished speaking to the people, He entered Capernaum. A Roman captain there had a servant who was on his deathbed. He prized him highly and didn’t want to lose him. When he heard Jesus was back, he sent leaders from the Jewish community asking Him to come and heal his servant. They came to Jesus and urged Him to do it, saying, “He deserves this. He loves our people. He even built our meeting place.” Jesus went with them. When He was still quite far from the house, the captain sent friends to tell Him, “Master, you don’t have to go to all this trouble. I’m not that good a person, you know. I’d be embarrassed for You to come to my house, even embarrassed to come to You in person. Just give the order and my servant will get well. I’m a man under orders; I also give orders. I tell one soldier, ‘Go,’ and he goes; another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
Taken aback, Jesus addressed the accompanying crowd: “I’ve yet to come across this kind of simple trust anywhere in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know about God and how He works.” When the messengers got back home, they found the servant up and well. (Luke 7: 1-10 MsgB)
As we discussed last time, when it comes to loving and caring for others in the precious name of Jesus, we do so in obedience to His command. “Go and love” is Jesus’ commission to His disciples and if we truly love the Master, we will do as He asks:
If you love Me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. (John 14: 15)
And as we “go and love” in His name, we find ourselves walking the same path that Jesus walked. For you see, the Nazarene, throughout His three-year ministry, found Himself subservient to the wishes of His Father. In John 5: 19, Jesus tells us explicitly that He only does those things He sees the Father already doing.
But here’s the rub.
As we go, doing the will of the Father, loving and caring for others, we discover, even in the life and ministry of Jesus, that there are times He was asked to go over and beyond the basic call of ministry. St. Ignatius identified these ‘extra-curricular’ beyond-the-call-of-duty missions of Jesus and put language to it. He called it the Three Kinds of Humility; and this week, I’m using a classroom approach to define these deeper God-beckonings into caring for others by using this terminology:
Three Degrees of Loving.
101: Proactive Love: Our all in all for God.
201: Unlimited Love: Beyond our limitations.
301: Outlandish Love: Beyond our imaginations.
As I see it, even Jesus, as found in our text today, is pushed by His Father to extend His mission of hope and healing even further than He first believed was possible. You see, Jesus was sent, first and foremost, to the Jewish people. He even said it Himself, when talking with the Canaanite woman who was seeking healing for her demonized daughter (Matthew 15: 21-28);
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
So here, in Luke’s text, Jesus is being pursued, not just by yet another foreigner, but by a captain in the Roman army! Oy Vey! Just think of it! A man of foreign descent, most likely on assignment from Rome; and not just a common man, but one who represents the evil forces of Caesar, the emperor who governs God’s people and makes them live as captives in their own land!
Jesus (and let me remind you, the fully-human Jesus) is probably mumbling to Himself under His breath when the Roman captain’s entourage steps up to Him here in Capernaum. Oh sure, the captain was smart enough to not send his soldiers to the Master, but wisely, he sent a few of his Jewish friends in order to soften the blow.
“Come and heal my servant,” was the request.
And now Jesus is placed into the quandary of staying on course with His primary mission to the Jewish people…or was God inviting His Son to step into an even greater level of love? The level I call:
201: Unlimited Love: Beyond our limitations.
You see, even Jesus, at times, had to step out of His comfort zone and care for people His flesh would, most likely, never choose to minister to. This time it was a Roman captain. As we said earlier, another time it was a Canaanite woman. And other times, His work was stretched to include a woman living in Samaria, a tax collector who was cheating his own people, or an unclean slut living in adulterous affairs.
201: Unlimited Love: Loving and caring way beyond our limitations.
And wait till you see what God has planned even beyond these limits? Join us next time!
My prayer: Father, this is getting hard. Loving and caring for others I care for is hard enough. But now, if I understand Ignatian spirituality, You are apparently inviting me to go even further than my limitations, into areas of ministry that will include many I don’t call friends. Holy Spirit, empower me to go, while releasing me from my limited worldview, for Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So who is it that God is asking me to love and care for today? While I’m comfortable with many on that list, if Ignatius is correct, there will be some on that same list, like it was with Jesus, who are typically beyond my human limitations. What levels of humility will I need today to go beyond those limitations, taking the love of Christ to those outside my comfort zone?
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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