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Meditative joy

Gavin T. Murphy keeps a blog on ilovebipolar.com and he looks to Ignatian Spirituality for strength and inspiration.

In the third apparition of the Spiritual Exercises (drawn from Matthew 28:8-10), Saint Ignatius relies on a slightly different version of events to that found in the contemplation on the second apparition. Nevertheless, he invites us to look to the women in this contemplation who show us once again that they are in tune with relationships – with themselves, others and God – central to the Exercises. Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of James go forth to the disciples after the angel appears to them at the tomb, telling them of the Good News of the risen Jesus. They experience a mixture of joy and fear. One companion is younger with a pink complexion on her face, the older one has a heart that is beating very fast.

They support each other and go at a pace that is between walking and running. They look ahead knowing that they are to tell the disciples what they have seen and heard. Suddenly, the resurrected Christ meets them and says, “Hail to you”. You can imagine if they were overwhelmed before that now they are even more so. They get down on their knees and greet Jesus, kissing his feet. He affirms what that angel has said, “Do not be afraid” and to tell the disciples to go into Galilee where he will see them.

I imagine that the women are humbled by such a request. Perhaps they doubt themselves thinking they are not worthy. Perhaps they are still trembling in fear. But, in my imagination Jesus helps them up from the ground, hugs them, kisses them and walks with them for a little while. He encourages their inner capacity to be strong, to be resilient and most importantly to enter into a deeper level, a level of meditative joy. They kiss him again and he does likewise, and they depart with renewed vigour and strength. They remember his facial expression of warmth and love.

They meet the disciples who respond in different ways – positively, neutrally and negatively. But they are not shaken by the disciples’ behaviour because the women are already living out of this deeper level. They encourage the disciples to enter into this meditative joy. Jesus – in his heartfulness, in his resurrection – moved them to do so. Today, there is a lesson here for us too. We can encourage each other to be anchored and to endure the joy and messiness of our lives. No doubt we come in contact with people who are quick to react, who disagree out of a default mode, who want us to experience an inner confusion through their harsh questioning.

Perhaps the next time this happens we can repeat the word “Jesus” to ourselves, slowly, steadily and deeply. This may encourage us not to react with more ‘intelligent’ arguments but to go further and stronger. We do not necessarily need to escape from people who are difficult. Perhaps we can remain present to them. Perhaps our Jesus mantra will lead us to see the more humourous side of things with our brother or sister, and to encourage them to enter into a universal meditative joy.

What to take home from this contemplation:

1. The women experience a mixture of joy and fear in their mission to spread the Good News.
2. Like the previous contemplation, they support each other with love.
3. They are overwhelmed with joy on seeing the resurrected Jesus.
4. Jesus comforts them and is affectionate with them.
5. Jesus encourages them to enter a deeper level of meditative joy.
6. They experience this consolation and encourage it in the disciples.
7. We too can be anchored in Jesus in the midst of people who are difficult.
8. We can have a sense of humour and encourage meditative joy in others.

O, Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

[This blogpost aims to accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future].