read the texts click on the texts: Dt 30:15-20; 1 Tim 1:12-17; Lk 9:18-26
readings of today set the tone for the celebration of the Feast of St. Ignatius
of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits. In the first
reading of today, Moses makes a strong plea to the Israelites to choose life.
Ignatius did precisely that when he was convalescing after the injury he
suffered at the battle of Pamplona in 1520. His reflections during this time
became the turning point of his life. It was when lying in his sick bed and
contemplating the life of Christ that he decided that everything was refuse
when compared with the knowledge of Christ.
deep and intimate knowledge of Christ which was not merely intellectual but
knowledge of the heart, led him to love Christ with all his heart and mind and
to follow him unconditionally.
was this intimate knowledge of Christ which sustained him all through his life
and especially during the tremendous challenges that he faced. Like Paul, he
too believed that he received mercy from the Lord. One important reason for
receiving this mercy in such large measure was because he recognised that he
was a sinner and in need of God’s grace made available freely in Christ. Like
Paul, Ignatius became an example to many. One of these whom he converted
through Christ’s grace was the now famous Francis Xavier.
Gospel text from Luke serves as an apt description of how Ignatius perceived
his master and Lord Jesus. Though Luke depends on Mark for this scene of
Peter’s confession, he has made some significant changes in order to bring out
his meaning of the text. The first is that unlike Mark, Luke does not give the
geographical location (Caesarea Philippi), but gives instead the context of the
prayer of Jesus. Through this change, Luke makes the confession a spiritual
experience. Luke also changes Marks, “one of the prophets” to “one of the old
prophets has risen.” Though the difference does not appear to be great, it is
for Luke. In the Gospel of Luke, before Jesus everything is old. Jesus makes
all things new. Luke has also eliminated Peter’s refusal to accept Jesus as the
suffering Messiah and the rebuke of Peter by Jesus. Luke avoids narrating
Marcan texts that show Peter and even the disciples in a bad light.
second question to the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” shows on the
one hand that the answers given of the crowd’s understanding of Jesus are
inadequate, and on the other that Jesus wants to know their understanding of
him. In all the Synoptic Gospels it is Peter who answers, but here too Luke
adds to Mark’s, “You are the Christ”, the words “of God”. The Greek word
“Christos” means in English “the anointed” and this conveys the meaning of
royalty. However, by his addition, Luke also brings in the prophetical
dimension of Jesus’ person and mission. This prophetical dimension is
explicated in the verses, which follow the confession of Peter, in which Jesus
explains the kind of Christ/Messiah/Anointed One that he will be. The reason
for the rebuke or “stern order” not to tell anyone is because Jesus wanted to
avoid any misunderstanding of the term which could be understood only in the
glorious sense. Jesus as “the Christ of God” will come in glory, but only after
he has gone to the cross, died, been buried and then raised.
together the five sayings on discipleship show clearly that discipleship to Jesus requires a total
commitment of life, taking the cross, giving one’s life in obedience to Jesus’
direction, forsaking the pursuit of wealth, and living out one’s discipleship
publicly before others.
is what Ignatius did and taught others to do. Today more than 450 years after
his death, his legacy still remains. The Society of Jesus that he founded
remains a Society that has at its core the following of the Crucified Christ.