Observing your own practices and hopes in relation to others
Spirituality is never a private affair. It always brings us into connection with others. We are called by Jesus to be in relationships of love, and to be loving toward others, even our enemies. The Christian message always brings us beyond those who are easy to love and challenges us to love God in the stranger, to find Christ in the outcast, in the marginalized, in the poor, in the oppressed. What can we do to express our love, and to protect and nurture love in our relationships with others?
A Reading from Rule for a New Brother, by H. Van Der Looy on ‘Following Jesus’
Following Jesus does not mean slavishly copying his life.
It means making his choice of life your own,
starting from your own potential and in the place where you find yourself.
It means living for the values for which Jesus lived and died.
It means following the path he took,
and seeing things as he saw them.
If there is anything in which this life, this way, can be expressed,
in which God has revealed himself most clearly,
it is the reality of love.
You are someone only in as far as you love,
and only what has turned to love in your life will be preserved.
What love is you can learn from Jesus.
He is the one who has loved most.
He will teach you to put the centre of yourself outside.
For no one has greater love than one who lays down his life for his friends.
He will also teach you to be unlimited space for others, invitation and openness:
‘Come to me all you who are weary and overburdened and I will give you rest.’
So be converted to love every day.
Change all your energies, all your potential, into selfless gifts for the other person.
Then you yourself will be changed from within, and through you God’s Kingdom will break into the world.
You are called to follow Jesus closely.
With Him you will take the road up to Jerusalem, the city of suffering and glorification.
With Him you will give everything that the Kingdom may come.
On this road you are called to be least of all and not master,
to carry others’ burdens and not lay your own on them,
to give freedom instead of taking it,
to grow poor in order to make others rich,
to take the cross upon yourself thus bringing joy to others,
to die in order that others may live.
This is the mystery of the gospel, and there is no purpose in endless talk about it.
Be silent – for it will be true and genuine only if you practice it.
So keep Jesus Christ before your eyes.
Don’t hesitate to go anywhere he leads you;
don’t stay where you are and don’t look back,
but look forward with eagerness to what lies ahead. Amen.
Reprinted from Rule for a New Brother by H. Van Der Looy. Copyright 1997. Used by permission of Templegate Publishers. templegate.com.
Exercise: My Web of Connections
Download this exercise to reflect on your relationships with the people who surround your life. Where are relationships strong and blooming? Where could some ‘fertilizer’ create better ones? Where are relationships weakest?
We are all connected, directly and indirectly, through God’s Creation. What should you include in your Rule of Life to improve your relationship with others?
Use different types or colors of lines (for example: straight for strong & happy / double for very happy / dotted for weak / wavy for tense / broken for broken) to characterize the relationship between you and others. For example your spouse, family, friends, co-workers, difficult people, those in need.
Then on each connecting line write your hopes for the relationship.
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