19.3 Three Degrees of Loving. 301: Outlandish Love.


The “Second Week”: Week Nineteen/Session Three.

Theme: Three Ways of Loving.

Our reading for today: Mark 5: 21-43.

After Jesus crossed over by boat, a large crowd met Him at the seaside. One of the meeting-place leaders named Jairus came. When he saw Jesus, he fell to his knees, beside himself as he begged, “My dear daughter is at death’s door. Come and lay hands on her so she will get well and live.” Jesus went with him, the whole crowd tagging along, pushing and jostling Him.

A woman who had suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years—a long succession of physicians had treated her, and treated her badly, taking all her money and leaving her worse off than before—had heard about Jesus. She slipped in from behind and touched His robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on His robe, I can get well.” The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with. At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from Him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched My robe?” His disciples said, “What are You talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling You, You’re asking, ‘Who touched Me?’ Dozens have touched You!”

But He went on asking, looking around to see who had done it. The woman, knowing what had happened, knowing she was the one, stepped up in fear and trembling, knelt before Him, and gave Him the whole story. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.” (Mark 5: 21-34 MsgB)

Thus far this week, we’ve explored how even Jesus of Nazareth was pushed by His Father, extending further and further past what many would consider human limitations, in order to minister the love of God to those many would consider beyond reach. Last time, we saw how Jesus, who believed Himself to be a missionary to His own people, was encouraged again and again to step beyond His own natural limitations, ministering to outsiders like the Samaritan woman at the well, the Canaanite widow, the Roman centurion, and more.

St. Ignatius defined this progressive ministry of Jesus, this ever-increasing spiral of agape love, as the Three Kinds of Humility. I’ve put the following chart together to help us better understand what, I believe, Ignatius was addressing in his Exercises.

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.

Father Kevin O’Brien in The Ignatian Adventure explains it this way…

Ignatius invites us to consider three kinds of humility, which lie on a spectrum of varying degrees of loving God. In the first kind of humility, we express our love for God by doing our duty and following God’s love…In the second (and “more perfect”) kind of humility…we also strive for indifference…In the third (and “most perfect”) kind of humility, we move beyond following God’s law and making reasoned judgments – both good things – and we experience a heartfelt desire to imitate Christ more closely. We do not hold back. We simply want to be where Jesus is, no matter the cost. In Ignatius’ words: When the options equally further the praise and glory of God, in order to imitate Christ our Lord better and to be more like Him here and now, I desire and choose poverty with Christ, poor rather than wealth; contempt with Christ laden with it rather than honors. Even further, I desire to be regarded as a useless fool for Christ, who before me was regarded as such, rather than as a wise or prudent person in this world. (SE167)  

As I see it, there will be times, as we humbly follow Christ, bringing His love and mercy into a broken and darkened world, when we will step far beyond our human limitations, and into a place of ministry that is so beyond our control, that’s it’s obvious we are now serving the Master at His very beck and call and not through our own interests or desires.

Jesus experienced this level of 301: Outlandish Love as He was on His way to minister to Jairus’ daughter, a poor innocent soul who was very near death when the Master got the call. Hurrying along the way, Jesus and His disciples were on a mission to save this girl from certain death. Mark’s gospel tells us that the crowds around Jesus were intense that day, but because of Jesus’ desire to minister the Father’s love, He, like the others, pushed against the crowds, attempting to get to Jairus’ home as soon as they could.

And then it happened.

A miraculous interruption that was not on Jesus’ schedule. Mark tells us that suddenly, Jesus felt ‘power’ (or energy) go out of Him. The healing anointing that Jesus carried with Him wherever He went was suddenly accessed, but this time without Him initiating it!

Jesus stopped, realizing that something had happened, but this time, it was not because of His own initiative. In other words, most of the time, Jesus saw what the Father was doing (see John 5: 19) and then proactively participated with all He perceived was occurring around Him. But this time, it was different. Jesus was running through the crowds, responding to what He believed the Father was doing (i.e. responding to Jairus’ urgent request for his daughter). But this day, Jesus was interrupted by something that was beyond His expectations, beyond His imagination. A woman with a great need pushed her way through the crowds and interrupted God!


Could it be that you and I will experience such interruptions? Ignatius apparently believed that to be the case, and even prayed for his own willingness to be interrupted so that he might walk in this very highest degree of glory that can be given to the Most High King. For Ignatius, he would rather be considered an earthly fool if that would allow him the ability to be at every beck and call of the Master.

My prayer: Father God, I believe I’m beginning to understand the ever-increasing depths of humility needed to be fully available for Your Kingdom purposes in this life. It’s one thing to be obedient to Your call of service, and yet quite another to allow myself to go beyond my human limitations. But it is this third level of love (this 301: Outlandish Love), where my life no longer belongs to me and I’m fully available at Your beck and call that I desire to explore in the days ahead. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: Am I willing to tread in these steps of Jesus where God-interruptions to my busy agenda are fully permissible and completely expected? What letting go of life needs to happen in order for me to enter into this third degree of love and humility that Ignatius brings to my attention?

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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