While at Mass by myself a couple weekends ago (a rare treat!), I was actually able to pay attention to the words of Scripture and the homily. The gospel reading was from Mark, when Jesus’ heals a deaf Gentile man with a very visceral, physical action and powerful words. He touches the man’s ears, spits and touches the man’s tongue, and says, ‘Be opened’. It is another example of the power of Jesus’ healing hands and the relationship he invokes with God. But could it also be an invitation to those of us engaged in family life on how we are called to work actively towards justice?
With all of the important minutia of everyday life with partners and children, friends, colleagues, pets and dwellings, how do we begin to choose or focus intentionally on how to act more just? St. Ignatius says that love should express itself more in deeds than in words—but do any of you family members out there feel like you aren’t doing enough? Or need to be doing more? Is the question about action, or what I suggest, more of an invitation to a perspective on how we can see justice actions more easily right within the framework for our families.
My Jesuit pastor shared a powerful idea upon this idea of ‘being opened’ by God. To him, and possibly to us, being open is not necessarily about an action state, but a being state. To be open to God, we allow ourselves to see our identities as a beloved, and that identity sets us free to love others. As partners and parents, how often do we take the time to look at the beloveds in our family and share with them their status as beloved by us? Instead of feeling like you need to do one more thing, is it possible to look at the interior life of our families and ask, ‘How do we see God’s loving gaze shining down on us, even in the midst of our busy-ness? How are we more free because we feel loved, or we open to that identity more and more?
My family has been having a hard time for the past year and a half with so many transitions—in the loss of loved ones, in job and school transitions, in managing tight finances with tremendous need. But I know it helps so much when I pause, and my husband pauses, and my son pauses (for a quick second), to truly ‘open’ ourselves to the life we lead as a family. The laughter, yelling, tears, teasing…. It’s all part of our identity as a unit, and by seeing it within ourselves, we are that much more free to share the possibility of family life with others. God dignifies us by seeing us… can we share in ‘God’s image and likeness’ by dignifying others… simply by being open to them, by seeing them?
Today, take a minute and look at other families in your daily routine—on your commute, at school, with conversations with friends and family members, on Facebook—and see how really seeing them might offer them some dignity that frees them as well. Try to imagine how our loving, merciful and ultimately compassionate God sees that family… and your family… and our entire earthly family. St. Ignatius knew how powerful it was to meditate on this image because he includes the reflection of the Trinity viewing Earth, and wanting to respond. Let us continue to live out our Ignatian spirituality by ‘joining’ God’s Three Persons in truly seeing family life… and in so doing, wanting to respond from a gaze of love.
Carrie Nantais, M.Div., MA, currently lives in Detroit, MI with her husband, David, and two sons, Liam (age 6) and Theo (age 3). She is completing her PhD in Clinical Psychology in May, 2017. Her areas of interest include: integration of spirituality and psychology, forgiveness, trauma and resiliency and women’s health issues. When she takes care of herself, she enjoys yoga, being creative, singing loudly in the car and laughing with her family.