You may have seen some of the books as you were walking in. You will all get a book when you leave. The whole Walsh campus is going to be on a retreat for 40 days. I am going to lead everybody in a guided prayer using meditation and contemplation.
What I am going to do, actually, is introduce to you these different types of prayer: meditative and contemplative prayer. Some people have never experienced this type of prayer. Leading people through this prayer experience is one of my favorite joys of the priesthood because often they will experience God the Father in a very personal way and experience Jesus as their Good Shepherd and their best friend. The Holy Spirit becomes real in their lives.
So, I would like to take a moment to do that with you now as we reflect on the Gospel. I invite you to close your eyes, and take a moment to try and relax your body. For the next few moments, try not to do anything distracting. Try not to move, not only for your own good, but for the people around you.
If you get distracted at all, or open your eyes, just go ahead and close your eyes again. If nothing else, just let this be a moment of rest – a moment where you don’t have to worry about any other stresses in your life. You can just enjoy being in God’s presence.
I want you to try to see Jesus with your imagination. God gives us the gift of the imagination so that he can work through it. I want you to try to see his face, his eyes. He is looking at you. You hear his voice say to you, “To you who hear, I say, love your enemies.” I want you to think of anybody in your life right now that may be an enemy. Jesus goes on to explain what that might be. Someone that hates you. Someone that curses you. Someone that mistreats you. Someone that, no matter how hard you try, just can’t stand you.
So, once you have that person in mind, I want you to imagine yourself in that situation of pain, whatever you experienced in terms of rejection or mistreatment. I want you to go back to that memory and just be there. And the Lord is with you now, too. He is right there in that moment. Whatever was done to you was also done to him. So, he continues to suffer, and to die and to rise in each of you.
I want you to imagine Jesus taking that rejection. Jesus accepting the hatred. Jesus taking that mistreatment. Jesus receiving that pain. Jesus taking whatever harm was caused to you. He takes it all into his Sacred Heart. He looks at you with peace and kind of a smirk. He looks back at the person that hurt you. He walks over to them and lays his hands on them. He blesses them, makes the Sign of the Cross on their forehead, kisses them, and then forgives them.
Then Jesus walks back over to you and as a Good Shepherd he says, “Can you do the same?” He knows what you have been through because he took it all. He was in that moment. He was in the pain. He was in the abuse. He was in the trauma.
So, imagine that he steps into you, and the two of you become one in a very mystical way. Then I want you to notice Jesus begins to walk with you and in you toward that person. Now it is your hands. He is working through you. He takes your hands. Your hands lay on the head of that person.
He invites you to say (he doesn’t make you do it), “I forgive you.” If you can, say, “I forgive you” in your heart and in your mind. And then, just as he did, sign their forehead with the Sign of the Cross. If you feel comfortable enough kiss their forehead. Then Jesus takes you back again to him.
He continues to proclaim this Good News that you do not have to live in a state of unforgiveness. Stop judging, and you will not be judged. Stop condemning, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Jesus says the manner with which you give will be the way it is going to be given to you. The more that we can forgive people in our lives, the more that we are going to experience his forgiveness. Give and gifts will be given to you.
A good measure, packed together, shaken down, overflowing, will be poured into your lap. Listen to that wind, like the Holy Spirit. For the measure with which you measure, will be measured out to you. Continue to keep your eyes closed.
At the end of this prayer, St. Ignatius invites us to do what’s called a colloquy. In this experience, we simply talk to Jesus, and then we let him talk to us. I’m just going to give you a few moments in silence to do that. If you are having trouble seeing him or hearing him, ask him for help. Say, “Lord, can you help me? I want to see you. I want to hear you.” Then tell him anything that’s on your heart, and then listen to what he has to say to you.