In a time of distancing, Fr Brian McCoy SJ talks to us about the concept of isolation in the Ignatian tradition. Full transcript below the video.
Most of us have been in some form of lockdown due to the coronavirus for some 30 days.
When those of us in the Ignatian tradition hear the term ’30 days’ we are immediately drawn back to the 30-Day Spiritual Exercises offered by St Ignatius, a retreat that is offered to Jesuits and others, offering a time of journey with Jesus, to be transformed in the way we live as the people of God.
It is a journey that our visiting tertians from overseas on their formation program have just completed at Sevenhill.
Those 30 days invite us to be always on that journey of transformation, of becoming better people. Some of the things that happen in those 30 days will change us for the rest of our lives.
It is probably an opportune time now, after these 30 days or so of lockdown, to consider what has really changed us, what has touched us, what offers us personal and communal renewal at this time, and possibly forever.
We hear wonderful stories of humour, of spontaneous generosity, of people caring and cooking and offering their support for the homeless, those who are alone, and the elderly.
We are aware of those in health care, and the risks that they take. We are also aware that it comes at a cost; that some people suffer mental illness, there can be domestic violence, and some people suffer unemployment. There are a whole range of ways that we see people suffering. There are also some terrible examples of racism against people from Asia, and those who are on temporary visas with no support offered to them.
So at times we can see great life, great hope, great joy, great creativity and generosity; and also suffering and sadness. But it is a journey that calls us to remember and to think about the 30 days, and what the next 30 days might now invite from us.
It is timely, therefore, that the Gospel reading we had for last Sunday was the story of Thomas. Thomas, called ‘the twin’, was not present when Jesus first appeared to his disciples when they were locked down after his death.
He appears to them as the resurrected Christ, offering them hope and life. They are locked down, and they are locked down for fear. Fear that they might follow the example of Jesus and also be killed.
Thomas says he will not believe in this risen Jesus until he can see his wounds, and he can touch those wounds in his hands and his side. When Jesus appears once again, and offers that greeting of peace to his friends, he invites Thomas to come forward to touch the wounds on his hands, and to touch the wound on his side – to see, touch and believe in the resurrected Jesus.
As we journey forward in the next 30 days, we are invited, I believe, to look back on the last 30 days, especially in those places where we were anxious, afraid, vulnerable, and even hurt, bringing them to that wounded Jesus who holds the scars of his death and resurrection.
For Jesus stands with us as a resurrected, a hope-filled, love-filled, generous Christ, for us as friends and companions in the journey ahead.
May the resurrected Jesus be a hope for us in the days that lie ahead of us. May we hold that hope, and may he reveal that hope, especially in those areas where he calls us to be people of hope, to be transformed within ourselves and within our communities, for our nation and also for our world.
My hope is that each of us may continue to live in hope for the risen Christ.
Fr Brian F McCoy SJ