Monday, July 31, 2017

We are at war.

July 31, 2017

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

Lectionary: 401

EX 32:15-24, 30-34

PS 106:19-20, 21-22, 23

MT 13:31-35

I’m not here to make friends.   That was part of my erroneous motto when I first became an electrical foreman.  The companies had sent me out to get a job finished and that was my goal.  The way I had been trained is that the company comes first.  I think that’s one of the two most common extremes.  Some leaders seek to please the people, letting them run amok and doing what they want.   Others are so strict that the people themselves cease to matter.  The reality of leadership should be somewhere in the middle.  Not either or, but both, and.   A good leader is one who never asks her/his crew to do anything they also wouldn’t be doing, and at the same time never forgets that the people he/she works with are just that, people.  That way both can be done.  The people can be respected for their dignity while at the same time getting the task at hand finished.

St. Ignatius of Loyola was a military man.  His mind was set up for that kind of regimented life.  So when he found himself wounded and confined to a room, imagine the turmoil going through his mind.  Before even the radio or telephone, let alone the internet, this man had only one recourse to entertainment in his hours of solitude: books.   He found himself spending hour upon hour reading the only two books available, a book about Christ and one about the Saints.   This led to not only his conversion but one of the greatest forms of spiritual prayer known to the church: the Spiritual Exercises.  Ignatius realized that even when lying in the bed wounded and recovering, we are still at war.    There are forces out there that want to tempt us and a fleshly body that often has desires of its own, which must be handled and not always given into.

Aaron made that mistake, he was the first kind of leader, the one who gives the people what they want.   While Moses was on top of the mountain, they formed an idol and began to worship with orgies and revelry.  As they came down the mountain one said it sounds like a battle, the other that it sounds like a drunken party.  Both were right.  It was a battle for souls.  One that can only be handled with the armor of God, and the sword of the Word.  So how do we begin?  I think that what we learn from St. Ignatius is that sometimes we have to stop trying to fight the war on our own, and spend time with God in silence alone.  It’s in those moments, using spiritual aids such as good books, prayer time, the Sacred Scriptures, and above all the Sacraments; that we begin to truly become closer to God and find our way toward the Kingdom.

Are you taking the time to do that?  A friend of mine and I were just talking earlier about how easy it is to let life get in the way of our relationship with God.  It requires discipline.  Jesus said that those who are not obedient to Him do not have life in them, and are not part of Him.  Don’t wait till tomorrow. Don’t let the devil convince you that you’re already in trouble, why not start when things get easier.   Start now.  Today.  Make some time, even if it’s just a few minutes, to sit with God in silence.   Listen to His voice as He leads you, like He led St. Ignatius and all the others, further into a relationship.  Then realize that you too are called to be a leader, regardless of who you are.  By baptism, you are priest, prophet, and king.  Which kind of leader are you?  The one who lets everyone do whatever they want, regardless of the risk to their soul?  The kind that doesn’t care about the other but only your own glory and comfort?  Or the one who gets the job done, while still growing in relationship with the people, and keeping their dignity intact.