Sunday 02 August 2015: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry; whoever believes in me will never thirst
St Ignatius of Loyola's Feast Day is 31 July. Richmond Catholic Parish celebrates his Feast Day and the Year of Consecrated Life today with a 10:00am Mass at St Ignatius' Church, Richmond. Refreshments in Parish Hall after Mass. Why celebrate? Who was St Ignatius of Loyola?
The story of St Ignatius takes us back to stories of the hippie 1960s. He was brought up in a proud family who had great expectations for him and for his brilliant career. He was educated in court, given experience in military leadership, and dreamed of romance and glory. But then his world changed. He cracked up. Wounded in battle, a convalescent with nothing to do, he found Jesus, slipped off to live in a cave, grew his hair long, dressed in rags and became a guru for poor women, always moved on by the authorities.
At a time of ferment in universities, he went back to study as a mature student. He fell under immediate suspicion as a religious agitator for his influence on younger students, gathered the more impressionable together and fed them a utopian plan of going to the volatile Holy Land (which needed bright sparks like petrol needs fire). When that failed he offered his band to the Pope for missions that no one else would take on.
It is a familiar story, one that usually ends in tears when the leader is discredited and the small group breaks up. But Ignatius’ story was different. He had learned to focus on what matters and found ways of setting the compass of the heart so that it constantly returned to what mattered most. His journey and that of those whom he influenced took them away from conventional dreams of wealth and status to be at ease with poverty and unnoticed. It was a journey into freedom, but the freedom was not shown in an escape from commitments but in the ability to focus on what mattered. They were ready to go wherever their call led him, whether that was to suit and tie and professional life, to a pilgrim’s staff, or to preaching in a city church.
Jesuit Social Services inherits from Ignatius the focus on what matters. For us that is the life and flourishing of the vulnerable people with whom we work, the people whom Ignatius saw as brothers and sisters of Christ. That weighs more than the security of funding and the stability of the institution.
The key to Ignatius’ story was that he found Jesus – as companion and as Lord, present in all the events and relationships of daily life, and in his prayer that opened him to the depth of Christ. The challenge was to follow Jesus where he led, and so reading his own heart and the world and its situations in which he lived.
Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ