It is through your life of gospel witness
lived in community with others
that God desires to manifest
care and compassionate love
to those who are separated and estranged,
not only from their neighbors,
but also from their own uniqueness;
to those who suffer
from want, neglect, and injustice:
the poor, the weak, and the oppressed
of this world.
They too are called
the love of God with the world
through their own giftedness.
The psychoanalyst Adam Phillips writes: “…why is it so difficult…to describe our helplessness as a gift as well as a curse. So much seems to depend on what our helplessness inspires in us.”
All persons, oppressed and oppressors, the small and the seemingly powerful, share in common a profound and, what is at times, frightening need of others. Empathy and community are not virtues to be cultivated; they are realities to be embraced. But they are so difficult for us because we experience our need for others as a failing and a curse.
Jesus makes clear that the good news is only available to those who recognize how much they need it, which means how much they need him and each other.
Echoing the Fundamental Principles, the Preamble to “A Description of our Xaverian Charism” states, “Through the Xaverian Way we are awakened by the Spirit of God to our own graced potential” so that we are able to “work to help others discover their own uniqueness…” The “way” to the discovery of our own uniqueness, of our true spiritual identity, is not a way of power and competence but rather a way of vulnerability and helplessness.
As we enter the Season of Advent and Christmas, we contemplate the Divine Mystery who chose to reveal itself in the need and helplessness of a human infant. As we reflect and pray this week and beyond, may we remain attentive to the child within us, the one who is always present to her or his need of others. For, it is only in such an open and vulnerable self-presence that we can truly know the outlines of our own uniqueness and evoke the unique possibilities of the other.
~Brother John Hamilton
1. What is my reaction when I experience myself as incompetent, or when I experience feelings of vulnerability and fear?
2. Can I think of one daily practice by which I can stay more present to the suffering, helpless and vulnerable child within, even as I continue to fulfill the responsibilities and demands of my daily life and work?