On the fifth and final day of the meeting, Brothers did two meditations. Please engage in one or both of the following exercises, then read the Councilors’ Reflections below.
Several Brothers use the British Jesuit daily podcast, pray-as-you-go, as part of their daily prayer. You can find the podcast at the site [http://www.pray-as-you-go.org] or on iTunes for daily download.
Click the following link to listen to and engage in the December 10th meditation (it is a roughly 13 minute exercise). December 10, 2012 Pray-as-you-go Podcast
Take a few deep breaths. Find your interior quiescence. Invite God to illuminate your mind and make you receptive to the Word. Read the following scripture passage:
Pharisees and teachers of the law,
who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem,
were sitting there,
and the power of the Lord was with him for healing.
And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed;
they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence.
But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd,
they went up on the roof
and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles
into the middle in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said,
“As for you, your sins are forgiven.”
Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves,
“Who is this who speaks blasphemies?
Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply,
“What are you thinking in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk?’
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins?”
he said to the one who was paralyzed,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
He stood up immediately before them,
picked up what he had been lying on,
and went home, glorifying God.
Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God,
and, struck with awe, they said,
“We have seen incredible things today.”
Consider the events in the story. Are they not strange? Why does Jesus, at first, forgive the man’s sins, but not heal him physically?
Consider your own ailments, aches, or pains. In what part of your life do you need the most healing?
What healing would allow to “rise and walk”? Bring that pain to Jesus. Be open to His offer of freedom.
Following this the Councilors shared their reflections, a sample of which follows:
“Whenever I hear this story from the gospel, I think of a leadership (Pharisees) that is in the process of losing control. They are with a person who is gifted and serving others, but all they can do is see their power threatened. They think everything must come through them and one who is appealing to the people is a threat. They don’t understand what Christ is doing and can only experience the threat to themselves. Backbiting, assassination of reputation is all that’s left of this corrupt leadership. They should be happy and joyous but they are not; they are just disturbed and angry. ‘It’s alright to make people walk again, but you must do it through us.'”
“‘What incredible things we have seen.’ As I reflect on these past five days, I can only say what incredible things we’ve seen. We come from very different cultures. We bring ourselves to this table, we pray, share, and work together. That shows the presence of God in our midst. It is not through our own power that we are able to do what we do, but through God’s power working through us. I am very grateful for being able to witness this incredible sense of fraternity, working together, and edifying and inspiring one another.”
“My reflections are similar to those just shared. As we move toward the end of our term, we have been helped a great deal in helping us to lead our lives as Xaverian Brothers. There are so many difficulties, and we can’t have the solution to all of them. We are here to help, not to provide a solution to every problem. We see that the people in the gospel today cannot reach Jesus, as the crowd is in the way. The crowd needed Jesus for many different reasons, because they had their own problems. So the men hit on the audacious idea of lowering the stretcher through the roof. Audacity is something we may need more of. We have learned over the period of our term to work together, to take the one on the stretcher to Jesus. We have tried to work together and, at times, to do what might seem crazy, like lowering the man through the roof.”
“When listening to the scripture reading, I think of those persons that bring the paralyzed person to Jesus. Their first obstacle is that they can’t reach Jesus, but they keep looking for a way to do that. They believed Jesus could heal the paralyzed man. But they are at first surprised and disappointed when Jesus doesn’t heal the man but rather says his sins are forgiven. We don’t know the time between the first and the second act, so that it was a sacrifice for the men who brought the paralyzed man. That must be an invitation to all of us to learn to be patient. Many problems are solved when we dare take enough time. We too easily want an immediate solution, and because we are not patient we don’t get the result that Jesus is surely ready to give to us.”
“I too was struck by the urgency and the strong desire for these people to tap into the power of Christ. The usual ways were not good enough; they had to find a new way to approach Christ. In the work we have been doing in tapping into our charism and seeing it in a new way is our attempt to find a new way to live a life of Christ’s gospel.”
“My reflection this morning was on the event that occurs in this gospel. In reflecting on the paralyzed man I was in my imagination seeing myself as the paralyzed man, I wonder if I have the humility to recognize my paralysis and the courage to ask my friends to bring me to Jesus. I then reflected on the Congregation and asked if we are a paralyzed body. In a certain sense the role of leadership is to bring that paralyzed body to Jesus, to point the body toward Jesus. The process of healing is not a single step. There is the bringing to and the encounter with Jesus and then the contemplative or sitting within the Divine Mercy, to begin to understand God’s Divine Mercy and Compassion. We don’t know how long the ‘sitting with’ took, until there was a new freedom and movement in the man. One of the recurring thoughts I’ve had over the past few years is that at one level we’re talking about a mystical experience. The invitation to us individually and Congregationally is an invitation to a communion, oneness with God’s Mercy and Compassion that is so enveloping that to experience it not only frees and heals us but moves us into compassion and oneness with others. I think Ryken had some mystical experiences. We know of one that took place for him at the Cathedral in Ghent. The experience is told by someone who is mocking Ryken. The experience is of Ryken imagining himself in the Garden of Gethsemane and hearing: “You must proceed, but you will suffer much.” There is much in this experience to ponder and reflect on. It is impossible for us to live this life unless there is a mystical element to it.”
– Monday, December 10, 2012 | Marriotsville, MD