During yesterday’s talks, Father Cantalamessa introduced the overall theme for the (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) bishops’ retreat. It is a theme that can easily apply to anyone who wishes to follow the Lord as His disciple.
Father Raniero began his remarks by noting that Jesus spent a good deal of his ministry preparing his disciples to undertake their apostolic, missionary work. By his estimation, approximately 40% of the Gospel is devoted to this “formation work.” At the heart of what Jesus offered his apostles was a choice: to leave behind a way of thinking that the world wants us to embrace and to begin to see all things in life as God sees them. In other words, Jesus desired to give his apostles a new “mindset”, one that sees the world in a radically new way, in terms of what God desires for creation, humanity and his disciples.
This choice was illustrated beautifully by the Lord Jesus at the moment after Peter’s profession of faith, when Peter rebuked the Lord’s prediction of His suffering and death. The Lord chastised Peter because he was thinking as the world thinks, not as God thinks. To lack such a divine perspective is to live life spiritually blind- leading to personal chaos and sin.
Father Raniero asked us to look within ourselves and to see what “personal chaos” exists within our lives and hearts. It is chaos that is marked by sin, blindness, acceptance of the ways of the world and a stubbornness of heart. Such personal chaos exists when we lose sight of God’s way of thinking. As such, Father Raniero suggested that rediscovering this “divine way of thinking and living” is the starting point for true personal and ecclesial conversion.
As we begin this new year, perhaps we can all benefit from looking for those areas in our lives that are in chaos, precisely because we are looking at life as the world does. For just as in the Book of Genesis, the Holy Spirit hovered over the great abyss (chaos) and called it into order (cosmos), so too the Holy Spirit is ready to enter into your personal chaos and mine and bring it to order and new life.
The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos!