Whilst I was on my recent course at St Bueno’s Jesuit Centre in North Wales, I was struck by one of the titles of the day’s talks … it read: `What God is doing’. As first I instinctively thought that someone had accidentally left a question mark off the end … or simply misprinted it, meaning it to read: `What is God doing?’ After all, wasn’t it a question?
I soon found out that there had been no mistake! The title was a statement of fact, a sentence of faith and hope and one which lies at the heart of Ignatian Spirituality. For Ignatius taught that God is in all things, and at work at all times, and it is our joy and privilege to encourage ourselves and others to become more aware of God’s active presence in all circumstances and at all times.
When you really think about the ramifications of this, it’s quite something to get your head around: in the 10 day period of my course the situation in the Holy Land became even more catastrophic, the war in the Ukraine was continuing; and we know we are seeing the devastating effects of the climate crisis, the deteriorating mental health of our youngsters, and economic and social concerns both in our own country and throughout the world. Many of us might be excused for putting that question mark back and inquiring `What IS God doing’ in situations like these? Surely these are places and circumstances which show the absence of God?
But, no. As part of my course we were given examples of difficult situations to discuss and we slowly began to see that even in terrible circumstances God can be seen at work, inviting and calling individuals, groups and perhaps sometimes even governments to the light. It’s rather like Jesus, calling his first disciples on the seashore: Jesus calls and invites a response. And what we can learn to recognise is that this call happens in every moment of our lives, whatever is happening around us – it’s a call which asks us to respond as the disciples did with an unequivocal `Yes’ as we turn our hearts once again towards God!
As we move towards the Advent and the celebration of the incarnation at Christmas, perhaps it might be good to pause a little each day, each evening, and reflect where we have seen the hand of God at work in us, in others and in whatever has come to pass that day. For if we do this regularly we will find that our gratitude towards God’s generosity and the awareness of God’s mercy and faithfulness will increase. And that is a good thing for a grateful heart brings with it a peace and trust which is far deeper than the world can give.
Thanks be to God!
with love, Liz