Jesus did not leave us a list of truths to affirm, but a task to carry out. We must try to discern in our time and place how God wants us to live our lives in this world in tune with God’s Spirit, the one divine action at work in the universe. This is what the discernment of spirits is all about. Followers of Christ have been given a task to carry out and the means to do it. Impelled by God’s Spirit, they must try to live in this world with the conviction that with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus all the needful has been done, that God has won the victory he intends. Our task, therefore, is to follow the prompting of the Spirit, who has been poured out in our hearts, to follow the way of Jesus.
William Barry, S.J. in Spirit, Style, Story: Essays Honoring John W. Padberg.
An Ignatian Book of Days, Jim Manney, p. 322
Ever since I read this quote, it has stayed with me, prompting me to look at my life. “Love is shown more in deeds than in words,” wrote St Ignatius. And so it is. Love, and discipleship.
In the past two days, by chance, I watched two movies about the same sort of persons: Schindler’s List and Grüningers Fall. In each case, a man, one German, the other Swiss German, comes to save the lives of people who without his intervention would have died. In each case, the man dies in poverty, not celebrated until much later.
A situation like the one Oskar Schindler and Paul Grüninger faced is, fortunately, not so common. Still, each day, I am sure I have the opportunity for small acts of cowardice or courage. The choice is mine if I remain awake to what is going on around me.
Jesus did not leave us a list of truths to affirm, but a task to carry out.
As I watched Grüningers Fall last night, I watched people around him who chose not to see the consequences of their preventing Jews to come into Switzerland. For the 3,600 persons Grüninger saved, 30,000 others returned back into the darkness of the times.
These people chose not to see. What is it that I choose not to see?
On this day of All Saints, I suspect that each one of these saints, whether known or not, chose to follow his or her conscience rather than his or her need for comfort. They didn’t do it with an eye on history and fame down the road, but on what was at hand right there, right then.
I find it too easy to affirm a list of truths and more challenging to identify the task to carry out. Maybe, at the end of each day, I can look back on what I did and failed to do and sift through the small events of my life to discover where was laziness, if not cowardice, and courage.
Art: Rogier van der Weyden, The Last Judgment (detail)