Reflection for Thursday, October 30, 2021: 30th Week of Ordinary Time.

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Alexander, Andy, S.J.
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|Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,|For I am meek and humble of heart. - Matthew 11:29|Rather, when you are invited, |go and take the lowest place ... Luke 14|I love this parable Jesus tells. At face value, it is simple:|For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,|but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 14|While simple, it is quite counter cultural and quite against the stream of self-promotion that can dominate the movments around us. Who in this world - beside Jesus - is saying "take the lowest place"? And, why would Jesus say that?|It comes from the same instinct that he had when he told us:|"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."|Paul in his letter to the Philippians spells it out for us, when he urges them to imitate Jesus:|If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.|Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.|Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.  Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [Phillipians 2:1-11]|St. Ignatius guides us in a path that helps us move in this counter cultural direction. In his Spiritual Exercises, the spiritual exercising he offers is self-emptying - what he calls growing in spiritual freedom. It is the humility of knowing who I am and what I'm for. I know what my coffee mug is for and what my computer mouse is for. Our world has many definitions of what I'm for. If I come to know I was created to "praise, reverence and serve God our Lord," I've come to the beginning of a new vision for my life. However, I won't change with willpower or resolutions, or my effort alone. Ignatius discovered that it is a matter of the heart. He came to experience that falling in love is what changes us. Ignatius came to know that gratitude heals. The more I feel loved, the freer I become - because I'm becoming more and more grateful. I want to say, "What return can I make to the one who loves me so much?!" So, the spiritual exercising Ignatius offers is the process of getting to know Jesus more intimately. Jesus wants us to join him in the mission he has from the Father. Self-emptying identification with us is his mission. It is how he saves us. The process will inevitably lead to a graced (gifted) experience of falling in love with Jesus. The rest comes more easily. I want to be with the one I am drawn to in love, and eventually that bond leads (graces) me to desire to be more and more like the one I love. That is the path to becoming attracted to Jesus' counter cultural way of emptying himeself in love. Losing myself - with him and like him - will lead me to finding myself and living my real purpose.|The way of life that becomes part of living like Jesus will have many forms among us. It will always be humble and have a measure of thinking of others' needs first - taking the lowest place. It will always be about choices that move in the direction of healing and reconciliation, compassion and togetherness, empathy and service.|Let us reflect upon this blessed wisdom and freedom and graced gift of freedom in the very spirit of Jesus. Finding these desires in our heart can lead us to ask for these graces, with deeper and deeper desire. May our Lord who so wants to bless us each in this way, open our hearts and set them free, to be more like his.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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