MISSION MATTERS: Following New Banners
In the latter part of the Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius asks us to consider what has been traditionally called The Call of the King. In this contemplation, Jesus is presented as the perfect leader to whom we owe all allegiance and obedience. Jesus has a simple ambition, I want to overcome all diseases, all poverty, all ignorance, all oppression and slavery — in short, all the evils which beset humankind. He wants us to be part of His work and promises not to be a remote or isolated leader, but one who will be with us in all that we do. For Ignatius, this meditation is presented to help us choose our goals for our lives.
In the past few weeks, two super powers — and a quarter of the world's population — have decided who will be leading them in the near future. Unlike in many parts of the world and in times past, these were primarily peaceful transitions or decisions. But many people are now unsure of what their future will hold, unclear about the directions their leaders will take them and their countries.
Neither the United States nor China — now or ever — has chosen a leader anywhere close to being or even resembling Christ the King. Both countries and all of their citizens, probably, are very aware that there are limitations in their leaders and their leadership. We all know that no matter how good each of the leaders might be, their ambitions and agendas are not always as simple or clear, or based in genuine care and concern for every person, as the ambitions and agenda of the ideal King St. Ignatius presents. So, most of us, in current and previous times, limit our allegiance and obedience to these people. We may still be dubious about how they will help lead us to serving better the common good, even the greater good.
Though these changes and leadership are not ideal and may have agendas we may not fully understand, passively waiting to see how things turn out may not — really cannot — be our only response. St. Ignatius, at the very beginning of the Exercises, instructs us to search for the positive ways each person's speech and actions reflect God in this world. In this light, and following that direction, we may want to actively try to find the ways these new and re-confirmed leaders can work to help us and this world we all share — to serve us all better — to serve God's plan for our world.
We hope and pray that each of these new groups of leaders will move closer to the type of leader St. Ignatius presents for us and for our countries. We can — each and all — try to be positive about the actions each of these groups may propose and take to bring forth a better world. Above all, let us each work every day in what we say and in what we do, to be part of that work, to make real the ambitions of the Christ the King with all we meet and work and live. We can pray and work for nothing less.
A. M. D. G.
D. Highberger, S.J.
P. Stark, S.J.