“If you haven’t made it by 35, you never will”
“Always aim for the top”
The intended message of the above career advice suggests that better outcomes can be achieved through ‘power over’ than the significance of ‘service to,'. How contradictory is the request of Jesus, “not to worry about (one’s) life, what (one) will eat…” Lk 12:22. Imagine the looks of family and friends, the disdain of professional colleagues and the personal demons of self-doubt if one were to announce to them these kingdom values of Jesus were indeed one’s genuine goals!!!
And yet Karl Rahner SJ describes St Ignatius’ discipleship as not only an identification with the ‘poor and humble Jesus’ but also a preparedness to ‘die with Jesus.’ Rahner proceeds to ponder, “what ‘poor and humble’ actually means in our time: (because they) must have social and political implications in secular society and in the church: (and) a critical sting, a dangerous memory of Jesus…”
The juxtaposition of power and service, the underpinning principle of Jesus’ ‘kingdom,’ was as confusing to his apostles as it is to us due to our shared preoccupation with prestige, honour, power and wealth. In the ‘real world’ who would want to exchange ‘power over’ for the insignificance of humble ‘service to’ the crippled, lepers, beggars, prostitutes and demoniacs who, for the Pharisees, were little more than a ‘rabble.’
An honest uttering of the Ignatian principle to, “choose actual and spiritual poverty for the greater service and praise” (98) of God, suggests a capacity to accept self, embrace God and allow the love of Jesus to flow through one-self and into others. How humbling it must have been for Jesus to say to the Father: “yet not what I want but what you want.” Mt 26:39.
(Image from Pixabay by sasint)
Steve Jorgensen M.EdL, B.Ed Hons, commenced teaching 48 years ago, 31 years of which have been in Religious Education as the Head of RE in both NZ and Australia. In 2005 he had the blessing of undertaking the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius with Fr John Drury S.J. Subsequently Steve did the Arrupe Programme training as a Giver of the Exercises, and in his semi-retirement is excited about the prospect of participating in the programmes of the Faber Centre of Ignatian Spirituality, especially its ministry to schools.