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Jesus-Serene One

Among our fond memories of the Cursillo Weekend is the recollection of utter serenity that filled the environment from Thursday night to Sunday night. We might have thought to ourselves that if the spiritual life is the experience of such tranquility, surely it is worth living.

Likewise, Jesus demonstrated serenity in His life. Recall the scene of Jesus asleep in the boat in the middle of the storm. Or the scene of Jesus facing thousands of hungry people needing a meal; such a guest list would have thrown Martha into a tizzy. Or when the disciples might have expected a scolding for busying themselves with fishing rather than Jesus’ work, but He was all serene. When they brought their catch in, they saw that Jesus had a fire going and was frying fish for them. (Jn  21 1-13) We need Jesus as a model of serenity, because the human tendency is to take this good quality and push it to an extreme, causing us to become ineffective evangelizers.

Human Way.  We can get so caught up in the serenity of the spiritual life that we might become lazy about our mission to take the Good News to our environments. While some isolation from others is required to live the spiritual life, it can become a too satisfying habit. Erroneously we might take that spiritual directive of “let go and let God” to mean that God will do everything while we simply wait for His Spirit to bring about the Kingdom. We can allow our patience for results to limit our actions. We can forget that the goal of our work at growing in holiness and spiritual formation is to build resources within us to become evangelizers for Jesus. We can ignore Jesus’ promise that His Spirit will empower us to complete His mission.

Jesus’ Way. Jesus did not allow His personal serenity to interfere with His mission. He had to put up with the slow learning of His disciples, but He kept on trying with parable after parable, answer after answer. Just before His Ascension, Jesus had to exercise great patience when His disciples asked Him: “Lord, are You going to free Israel (from Rome) now and restore us as an independent nation?” Acts 1:6ff. While Jesus might have wanted more immediate results from His efforts, He was calm about the prospects, telling His disciples that the Kingdom was like a seed that takes root slowly; only after a time does it produce a harvest. At the heart of Jesus’ serenity was His great faith that God would ultimately accomplish His mission; He would succeed..

Remedies. If we find ourselves excessively drawn by a desire for serenity in our spiritual life, let us remember that Jesus promised His followers that God would empower them through the Spirit dwelling within them. In other words, the same gift that empowered Jesus in all His activity is our gift. God has entrusted each of us with unique gifts which the Spirit will guide and develop for our unique mission in life. So, we are gifted and we are powerful.

Second, God loves us as only God can love us—unconditionally. In the same way that Jesus is loved, we are loved Jn 17:26.Knowing God’s personal love, we experience deep inner peace. It frees us to be self-giving to others, for we have entered deeply into the gift-dimension of life. In our gratefulness for God’s love, we will want to help others discover that they are loved. However, others can only come to this truth if we love them with the radical love of Jesus. For we are the only Jesus they will ever meet.

Third, if our desire for serenity isolates us from others, let us remember that Jesus promises a special presence of Himself when in His name we gather together in mutual love. Through Christian community we get in touch with the energy of Jesus’ Spirit. The energy to grow in faith, in hope and in love.