One of the areas where respect needs to be accounted for is when the subject of spirituality is broached. It has to do with a topic that searches for a way of describing the relationship between God and humanity. Because this has to do with God, it has to be handled with care and respect. Taking this into account, some things do appear in our lives that stand out, that is, in the lives of disciples.
These elements can be gathered from many parts of the Sacred Text. An example of this is the experience that Jacob had as he struggled with the divine presence (Gen. 32:22‐31). He spends the entire night wrestling and with the approach of dawn discovers himself wounded and blessed.
This is something that calls for more than a bit of reflection. It seems certain that in the disciple’s itinerary this type of encounter will need to take place. One would rather not, we would rather have experiences of joy and perhaps of ecstasies. Life is constantly in search of a becoming, of defining one’s self. In an early life stage, motivation has so much to do with basic human development; what motivates us is the ego, we are egocentric. We constantly strive after basic need satisfaction or pleasure. There is much of this in the spiritual realm as well. In the beginning, we are motivated by insecurities, the desire for protection, divine intervention, rescue or some sort of spiritual joy. This was very much the experience of the Apostles itinerary as well.
However, if the person allows a disposition to let the Lord’s action prevail, then the process of maturity is on its way. The disposition is already an indication that this process of maturing, at the human development side as well as the spiritual dimension, is taking place. Allowing the activity of God in our lives frees the person from the demands and expectations of the “little I” and God begins to occupy the space in our lives that belongs only to God. Often, this moment, allowing God to be God, seems to happen under external duress: An illness, the death of a beloved person, a terrible failure and addiction are some examples. It also happens when the experience of love is such that it changes everything.
In these situations, a certain clarity is gained and the person is able to define his path and abandon all others. It is under these circumstances that an encounter with the Lord is possible, as never before. After what might have been a long journey, the culminating moment arrives that will forever define the person. This happens when the Lord sets his sights on the person. We can point to many scenes in the Gospels: The healing from leprosy, the encounter with the Samaritan woman. But, when Peter tells the Lord, “you know that I love you”, this is something different. This is Peter after having wrestled the same as Jacob.
Discipleship in its first stage, tends to be attached to the wonderous, the miracles, the profound gestures of divine kindness. However, in order to follow the Lord, detachment is necessary, because discipleship has to do with following the Lord and not the wonders of the Lord.
Thinking about the pandemic, maybe this is the grace that Our Lord has bestowed upon us. The grace of an authentic discipleship given the fact that dawn is near.
Father Francisco Gómez, S.T.