The experience of the Spiritual Exercises lived in the month of January was a time of great Grace in which I was able to review my life and my history closely accompanied by God, Father of love and kindness, who with immense love, care and affection and a lot of patience has accompanied me to the deepest corners of my being. As soon as I began, I was reminded of how much I am loved by Him. A time in which I experienced the transforming power of love. I felt that the principle and foundation of my life was founded on the unconditional love that God has for me, which began even before I was born. This love, which accompanies and welcomes me despite all limitations and frailties. Love that invites me to love and to forgive every person to the same extent that I am loved and forgiven.
Following the dynamic proposed in the Exercises and sustained by the Love of God, I was able, then, to enter deeply into the experience of evil and sin. It was hard to admit that having been created in freedom, we human beings abused it and broke off with God. I feel that we have committed the grave sin of self-sufficiency and ingratitude, wanting to live on our own, leaving aside God and his love for us. I also felt that the sin of self-sufficiency, added to the sin of the denial of God and of his love is the cause of all sins, of all the evils of the world and of the human person. And, despite all this, God continues to believe in and opt for humanity. He continues to call us to follow him, to remain with him to build together a world of peace and solidarity.
To the Father, the Son and the Spirit who accompany us every day, who suffer from seeing that the paths we choose often distance us from Him, I brought all the complaints and weariness of humanity. Thus, I saw myself before the Trinity that contemplates the world and the human being in the world. I tell them that we are tired and how much we need someone to show us the way, walking with us. Then, the Son, young and impetuous, offers himself, is incarnated in our humanity and our history. He was born like many children of his time and ours: poor and marginalized. He experiences the harsh reality of being an immigrant and not having where to rest his head. He also experiences and promotes solidarity among the simplest. He returns the hope and the certainty that God does not forget his sons and daughters.
I see the way of internal and external growth of Jesus, who in everyday life is seeking to discover God’s desire for his own life. He wants to live with meaning. I perceive, then, that, in order to truly grow and mature, human beings need to question themselves. Jesus questions himself, asks his parents what it is to be happy. And they, with joy and simplicity, explain that to be happy is to seek and find God’s will for life and to live according to this will. Jesus will grow up with this certainty. And in this search he leaves the family home. He goes in search of happiness, which he will only find in doing the will of the Father, realizing the mission for which he was sent: to teach the way to God the Father, walking with humanity. To show the merciful face of the Father who loves all his sons and daughters and who wants to bring together all of them.
I feel totally identified and enchanted with Jesus’ way of talking about life and God. A quiet and beautiful way. It speaks of a Kingdom of Heaven that welcomes everyone. He has a unique way of calling each person to follow him. Looking at each person with respect and admiration. He looks at me and once again calls me to follow him. At first I make excuses, but I enjoy being with him even to the extent of denying myself. The call is to go and stay by his side forever. And like so many men and women, we are sent on mission. To live and feel the reality of the other, mainly the realities of greater suffering and poverty, where life is endangered. He sends us to announce what he himself announced: the unconditional love of God and his infinite mercy. And in the breaking of the bread and the gifts, in which each one is invited to offer what he has, I offer my own life so that the Lord may dispose of it if it is for his Greater Glory and the good of our neighbors.
“To be part of me is to assume my destiny.” He tells me that in the last supper we had together, when without our understanding, Jesus washes our feet. He was telling me in a more real way that following Him implies moments of pain and suffering. It entails the cross. How can there be so much injustice, so much untruth and manipulation against the One who has not committed any crime? It was painful to accompany the condemnation of Jesus without being able to do anything. And I understood in the midst of the horror of the crucifixion that death is an evil that will never have the last word. Somewhere in the world, someone will always raise his voice in favor of goodness and life. In the midst of the abandonment in which Jesus finds himself, I see him helping me to understand that our way of dying says a lot about our way of living. And I see him on the cross expressing his whole life, his love, forgiveness and welcome. He abandons himself once again to the Father.
And, like the day that broke calmly, filling the earth with color and life, I experience with Mary the Resurrection of Jesus. “It will not be the cold rock of an empty tomb that will extinguish the fire of my life.” And with these words Jesus announces the victory of Life. He announces his Resurrection. It is not the end, it is not over. His friends and followers will be able to recognize the risen one only because they had a relationship of closeness and intimacy with Jesus that made it possible for them to recognize his voice, his gestures, his peace and trust. This underlines the certainty that for each person, the Lord has a very particular way of calling, of looking and of caring. I recognize him in my own life and in the particular way that he has of taking care of me and leading my life and my process. A way that is His alone for me.
Jesus is alive and lives in the community encouraging us, sending us anew to take care of all his flock without leaving anyone out. With special attention to the most fragile and needy. And to realize this mission, he makes us aware that it will only be possible in love, with love and for love. Thus, I end with the renewed certainty that God continues to call us to follow him every day and that our response to this call must also be daily. And we can always count on his presence, with his tireless work. God has given me much, and much do I desire to offer. That is why I must take care of the life that is in me, because it is not mine. It is to be offered for the good of others.
Thank you, Lord, for so much good received.
Obrigada Senhor por tanto bem recebido.
Leila Janaína Pereira da Silva- Junior of Brazil