In this third reflection on the Advent letter by Father Tomaž Mavrič, CM, we are invited to meditate on “His Love… keeps surprising us today, here and now!”
These weekly reflections, based on the letter of the Superior General, are offered with the hope that they will help us all to prepare ourselves for the coming of our Lord.
You may read the first meditation, “Three Pillars of Vincentian Way of Life” in this link. The second meditation is “Presence Hidden in Plain Sight.”
Reliving our experiences
We have mixed reactions to the powerful life experiences. Some we want to relive. Others we fear. Some of our experiences energize, while others paralyze. Some we can’t seem to stop talking about. Others reduce us to silence.
Occasionally our experiences are transformative. We may not recognize the transformation at the time. A bully’s taunts, a parent’s love in times of crisis. Either can affect us over time. The power of the events only become clear in retrospect.
Vincent’s transformative experiences
We know that St. Vincent discovered his mission from two experiences he had as a priest in 1617. His eyes were opened to the experience of spiritual poverty in a rural area around the village of Folleville. The experience of material poverty in the city of Chatillon further transformed him. Because of this, he set out to evangelize the poor by helping them in both spiritual and material ways. These experiences let to his mission of bringing good news to the poor. They inspired him to begin preaching popular missions and to organize the Confraternities of Charity… and so many other initiatives that transformed the face of France in the 17th century.
I have often wondered whether St. Vincent realized initially how these encounters impacted him. We do know that he spent a lifetime unpacking these events.
Eucharist as a transformative experience
As the Eternal Word Jesus experienced the community of persons we call Trinity. As the Word become flesh Jesus lived the implications of mutuality of persons. I have come to realize that the “good news” is that Jesus invites us into these mysteries of his life and experience of community. It has also dawned on me that we spend a lifetime answering Jesus’ question in the first Eucharist. “Do you understand what I have just done in washing your feet?”
The Eucharist is more than a celebration. It is a command to do something! It is a command to wake up and to serve one another as Jesus has done. That is what washing one another’s feet is all about. It is a command to enter into the mystery of Trinitarian community. In doing so we have a foretaste of the community of the heavenly banquet. It is a command to “do” (not just assent to) … “this (live in imitation of the Trinitarian community)”!
There is a further question. Do you understand the meaning of the events in your life?
Contained there is also a command to look at the full range of Jesus’ experiences. In each of these experiences or mysteries of his life, he shows us what it means to be made in the image and likeness of the community of a Trinity of persons. As we look at his experiences as the Word made flesh we see the model for our own experiences as we struggle to recognize the kingdom of God here and now.
We see patterns for understanding what we experience.So it is not only washing one another’s feet. It is seeing in our lives how we enter into the mysteries of Jesus’ experience via your own experiences and what we can learn from Jesus’ experience. “Do this” is a command to connect the dots between what Jesus experienced and what we experience.
Fr. Mavric reminds us:
If we find it all in the Eucharist, then it is there that
- Jesus speaks to us here and now from His Mother’s womb.
- He speaks to us here and now from the manger as a newborn child.
- He speaks to us here and now as a child in Nazareth.
- He speaks to us here and now as the person sent by the Father who went about doing good.
- He speaks to us here and now from His suffering and death on the Cross.
- He speaks to us here and now from His Resurrection.
- He speaks to us here and now from His Ascension.
- He speaks to us here and now as one of the three Persons of the Trinity.
We relive each of these events if only we open our eyes. Otherwise, we are going through the motions of living, “seeing but not seeing”.
Things to think about…
- Can I identify experiences that transformed me?
- Have I ever prayed with Jesus words “Do you understand what I have done?”
- Can I see how I live out the mysteries of Jesus life in my experiences?