The “Second Week”: Week Twenty/Session One.
Theme: Jesus’ Public Ministry.
Our reading for today: Luke 4: 13.
(After the temptations in the desert), the Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity. (Luke 4: 13 MsgB)
As we journey on with Jesus (through our Spiritual Exercises), St. Ignatius recommends that we spend plenty of time pondering over the day-to-day experiences we find recorded for us in the four gospels. For those who will take the extra time, Ignatius recommends using our imaginations, placing ourselves right in the middle of the story, using what’s called a colloquy (or conversation) with the Lord or others found in these gospel accounts. From Jesus’ first miracle (the wedding feast in Cana) to the raising of Lazarus from the dead, each story beckons us to step into the action, allowing ourselves to experience the sounds, the smells, and the full range of emotions that were obviously there as Jesus walked through three years of Kingdom ministry, for the greater glory of God.
One important aspect that has surfaced for me as I’ve allowed myself to step into these ancient Jesus-stories is to appreciate more fully the high degree of pushback Jesus experienced on a daily basis as He conducted His ministry in the midst of what was, so very often, a hostile environment. It seems that in nearly every event we find Jesus ministering in, there were always strong voices of discontent, unbelief, and at times, downright opposition to His life and ministry. And today’s scriptural text (Luke 4: 13) actually explains that opposition fairly well!
You see, all along the way, Satan was looking for unique opportunities to step back into Jesus’ life and ministry, tempting Him to go astray, or worse yet, pull Him away from the mission God had given. And this week, I’d like to examine what Ignatius called the three metaphors (strategies) by which Satan and his army of evil spirits act, not only in the life of Jesus, but in our lives as well. For the purposes of bringing these three metaphors of Ignatius into my own life, I’ve defined them as follows:
Three Strategies of the Enemy.
1. Dripping Faucets.
2. Keeping Secrets in the Dark.
3. War on My Weaknesses.
So today, let’s look at what I like to call Dripping Faucets. You see, Satan, while not omnipresent or omniscient like our supreme God, does know what makes you and me tick. And he also knows that while our inner desire to follow Jesus is strong, our flesh can be weakened or worn down through the daily grind of life. Thus, rather than risking a full-frontal body blow against us, Satan often enjoys sending little annoyances into our lives in order to wear us down. Do you know the kind I mean?
Ignatius likened this demonic strategy to the nagging grind of a discontented housewife. Father O’Brien, in his book The Ignatian Adventure, likened it to the whining voice of a spoiled child. For me, it seems more like the drip…drip…drip…of a faucet that refuses to stop!
It’s obvious in reading the gospels, Dripping Faucets seemed to come into Jesus’ life through the voices of, what I like to call, The Religious Right. Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not talking politics…I’m talking ‘religion.’ For Jesus, there never seemed to be a break from the overzealous Pharisees or Sadducees who hounded Him nearly everywhere He went. And while there were times, especially as the Jesus-story grew closer to Holy Week, when the Dripping Faucets became more aggressive, most of the time these “little voices” were constantly in the background, second-guessing nearly every move Jesus made.
So the next time the doctrinal police whisper behind your back, reminding you how you’re not doing things in a proper and right way, let’s all be aware of the Dripping Faucets. Or how about the next time we hear that little nagging voice accusing us of being that sinner who is too far beyond the reach of God’s mercy, let’s you and me get out of our chair, walk over to the sink, and turn off that dripping faucet so we can get some piece and quiet with Jesus!
Does anybody have a plumber’s wrench?
My prayer: Father God, thank You for the growing awareness I can have of Satan’s strategies to wear me down. Jesus, I see how You handled these Dripping Faucets and I ask the Holy Spirit to empower me as well to simply keep going, ignoring the drips. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So what Dripping Faucets are calling my name today? What action steps can I take to ignore the constant drip…drip…drip of Satan’s daily accusations?
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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