This week Rev. Patrick J. Lynch, SJ, Jesuit associate for Mission & Identity, presents our fifth Lenten Reflection on Jesus’ Passion.
He suggests that we approach this event through the lens of Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. In the first week of the four weeks of these Exercises Ignatius has the exercitant repeatedly ask oneself: “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I to do for Christ?” (#53)
As we reflect on Jesus’ passion and death in the light of John’s Gospel, Father Lynch proposes that we turn these questions around and ask what Jesus has done for me.
The easiest but most comprehensive answer would be that he died for my sins and the sins of everyone else. Let us, however, be more specific: What has Jesus done for me yesterday, today and in the future? For one with the eyes of faith he has kept me in existence. I also may see that Jesus helped to save me from an accident or rescued me from a bad relationship. On a more positive note, we might look over our past life to see how Jesus might have been helping me in my studies or obtaining a new appointment or promotion, in finding a mate, or in helping me in doing a complex project.
I also can ask: What Jesus is doing for me now? Might I believe that he is protecting my family and me from COVID-19? Might he be guiding me in the work that I am doing or in offering me assistance with teaching students online? Might he be assuring me that I have a job and am therefore be able to earn a living and support my family?
Finally, I can reflect: How might Jesus help me in the future? I can trust, hope and pray that he will be protecting and nurturing me to become the best person that I can be. He will be seeking the best for my family and friends. He will be offering us help in protecting our planet, walking with the poor, the outcast and those whose dignity has been violated. In short, I can pray that he will help us to develop a hope-filled world and offer us ways to find him in the people with whom we live and work and in our plans for promoting the common good.
By these means we can become more aware and grateful why Jesus died for me, for other women and men, and the rest of creation and our planet.
Here are also some other ideas that may appeal to you, if you have time for a period of extended reflection on Jesus’ Passion. At the close of the third week of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius suggests that a person spend the entire day contemplating the complete story of Jesus’ passion. If you have the time, you can follow Ignatius’ suggestion by reading John’s account of the passion or that of another Gospel and reflecting on those parts of the text that you find of interest or appealing. Alternatively, you may want to listen to J. S. Bach’s “St. John’s Passion” BWV 245 on YouTube while reflecting on the meaning of Jesus’ Passion and his death for you and our entire world.
Submitted by: Rev. Patrick J. Lynch, SJ, Jesuit associate, Mission & Identity