Commenting on Jesus’ promise to prepare a place for us in his Father’s house, Pope Francis once compared the Lord to an engineer or an architect—someone who is good at drawing up plans and making preparations. “The whole journey of life,” he said, “is a journey of preparation” for heaven (Homily for April 26, 2013).
This month, we want to look at this spiritual journey, this preparation for heaven, from the perspective of a variety of different aspects. We want to look at it from the heavenly aspect, where we focus on our relationship with the Lord. We want to look at the interior aspect, where we focus on the promise of a transformed life. And we want to look at the outward perspective, where we focus on the call to love one another and to share the gospel with the people around us.
By focusing on different aspects of the spiritual life, we can begin to identify different ways that God has worked in us over time. We can also begin to see more clearly where he wants to keep working in our lives.
A Balancing Act. As we look at these different aspects, one thing will become clear: all three go together. Unless we nurture our relationship with the Lord, we risk becoming too reliant on our own strength to do God’s will and follow his commands. More important, we may miss out on experiencing his great love.
At the same time, God wants us to live peace-filled lives and to have good and loving relationships. And so, unless we look at the way our memories affect the way we think and act, we run the risk of placing unnecessary conditions on our relationships. Hurts from the past can make us suspicious and fearful. Sins like greed, pride, and lust can cause us to have self-centered expectations that are abusive or callous.
Finally, if we focus only on our inner lives and our relationship with Jesus, we may end up ignoring the very mission that he gave us: to go out and “make disciples” of the whole world (Matthew 28:19). We risk becoming self-absorbed, unable to share our blessings with the people around us.
Grace for the Journey. Over the years, I have led a number of parish missions. The articles in this month’s issue summarize the talks I often give at these missions. I have found that talking about the spiritual life from the perspective of these three aspects really helps people in their spiritual journeys. People find God’s presence when we pray together on the mission. They find freedom when they let go of their hurts and resentments against others and when they confess their sins. And they find a new desire to give of themselves in service.
May the same happen for all of us this month. May Jesus, the heavenly architect, help us to see our lives in a new light so that our journey is filled with his grace, love, and power.
Joe Difato, Publisher | Email the Publisher at [email protected]