Two themes stand out for me in today’s Gospel: Humility and hope. During this time in Jesus’ ministry, the number of people who knew about him was growing, and public and private opinions became more and more controversial. Jesus didn’t start a PR campaign or hire a team of lawyers to defend his name; he withdrew. But he didn’t slip into obscurity—he continued to cure and heal people, staying with them, always faithful and true. What a beautiful passage to help us reflect on his meekness and faithfulness, even in the face of extreme controversy and danger.
How can I be like Jesus when I find myself in places where the odds are against me? For many of us, our natural response is to fight back, in an effort to protect our ego or feelings or strong point of view. And, of course, there are times when self-defense or protecting others is the right thing to do, but how often do you consider retreating quietly and peacefully?
Which brings me to hope. In Ignatian spirituality, there is a practice called the Examen, which is a daily examination of conscience. I’ve seen different variations of the Examen, and one I’ve learned recently is five steps, and goes like this: Become aware of God’s presence; review the day with gratitude; pay attention to your emotions; choose one feature of the day and pray from it; look forward to tomorrow. I’ve found the last step very fruitful for growing in hope: Whatever my cares of the day, I have faith that each and every one is under God’s watchful, loving eye; and though I see ways I could have handled myself better or more virtuously, I believe that the Lord is ever with me, and wants me to look forward to tomorrow, in hope.
—Kristin Dillon is a lay minister who participates in Charis Ministries programs. She lives in Chicago with her husband and nine-month-old son.