St. Ignatius

Christian Indifference of the Good Kind

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt 6:19-20

Normally when we think of being indifferent we conjure up a “couldn’t care less” attitude. St Ignatius, the Counter Reformation Reformer, uses the term in a totally different way. His definition of the word suggests, rather, a sense of detachment. He doesn’t say that the things of this world are unimportant but he suggests that we need to develop an attitude where God’s priorities take precedence over all. So God’s will becomes the key motivation for our lives – not money, nor pleasure – nor even the length of our life.

What St. Ignatius is acknowledging, is that the command of Jesus in the sermon on the mount, is a radical reorientation of our lives. It confronts the attitude of the “tacked on faith” that our lives so often portray. Too often, faith is that insurance policy, that little extra that gives our life a deeper dimension, or faith is that element that stops our lives being as shallow as that of so many people around us. “Indifference”, however, declares that “tacked on faith” is not what God wants for His children. Our Creator wants lives anchored in Him, not in the transient trappings of this world – no matter how alluring and tempting they may be.

Does this mean that Jesus is calling for an ascetic other worldliness? Not at all. Jesus enjoyed a party just as much as the rest of us. (See Tim Chester’s “A Meal with Jesus”).  Our problem is that we often confuse the things of this world with ultimate meaning. Our wealth, fame, house, possessions, or my case, books, is what, so often, gives our life meaning, rather than our relationship with God and our place in His Kingdom. That is why Jesus gives us the warning about our heart and our treasures.  That is why he says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. We so easily confuse the temporary niceties for eternal realities.

Secretly we think that Jesus’ command and St. Ignatius’ injunction cause us to be hard done by. Somehow we are missing out. But let us reflect more deeply. Does the God who sent His son to die on the cross for us, whose son is right now preparing a place for us, who dwells within us with his Holy Spirit, who pictures a city the streets of which are paved with gold – is this a God who wants to short change us and deprive us? Or is it that He has greater things in mind for His people and it is just our feeble baby like like imagination that clamours for the dross rather than wait expectantly for the gold.

Categories: Camino, christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, St. Ignatius | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Prayer for Generosity St. Ignatius of Loyola

Eternal Word, only begotten Son of God,
Teach me true generosity.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give without counting the cost,
To fight heedless of wounds,
To labour without seeking rest,
To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward
Save the knowledge that I have done your will.

In John 13 we read the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. I find that confronting. Not the act itself. I have had careers in toilet cleaning and garbage collecting, so a bit of tinea doesn’t bother me. No, it is the subservience, the humility that sticks in my throat. I don’t have a “natural” gift of service. It galls me.

Yet, this is what Jesus calls for and it is what St. Ignatius echoes.

The striking aspect of St. Ignatius’ poem is that it reminds us that our selfless, sacrificial service is a sign that we are growing in our reflection of Jesus. Once again, this challenges me, as it is not the way I want to live.

What should I do? This gracelessness in my life is a reminder that I still have so far to go in understanding Christ’s sacrifice for me, no matter how well I think I know my Bible. The more I understand and apprehend the cost of my salvation, eternal life and membership of His Kingdom, the more I will bow the knee in humble thankfulness.

To give without counting the cost,
To fight heedless of wounds,
To labour without seeking rest,

All these acts require a decision of the will, not simply a response of the emotions. Each act is one that I need to practise and practise again. If you, like I, do not find these actions come naturally our challenge is to actively seek to serve and labour. However, we must always remember that this is a response to, not a cause for, our salvation. In the words of St Ignatius it is what Jesus “deserves”.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Jesus, St. Ignatius | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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