Daily Step – Am I okay with being second?


Towards the end of our day yesterday, the first day of the JESEDU-Jogja2024 Seminar, we paused to Examen our day looking for all the moments where God had come close. As the examen reached it’s conclusion, we were invited to stand up and pray together the Our Father in our native tongue. Since the conference is being offered and translated in both English and Spanish, I had not had an occasion to really comprehend how many distinct languages were present in the room. As I began to speak “Our Father… who art in Heaven…” all around me a cacophony of both familiar and unfamiliar sounds began. It was at first disconcerting trying to speak my prayer and listen to the many voices around me, but soon it became a sort of beautiful disparate harmony as we all prayed the prayer that Jesus taught.

There were no tongues of fire, but it is what I imagine it sounded like when the Holy Spirit enabled the Apostles to proclaim the Good News so that each individual and everyone collectively was able to hear and believe.

Many times I have wondered what Ignatius feels like seeing his work continue from Heaven. But yesterday, as a fruit of our incredible conversations, I wondered instead what does Christ feel like moving among us as we try and continue his work building the Kingdom. In the homily, the Provincial for the Indonesian Jesuit province, Fr Benedictus Hari Juliawan SJ or Fr. Benny as he is called, gave a wonderful homily for the Feast of St. John the Baptist reminding us that John practiced what we all must strive for – he decreased so that Christ might increase.

Being a voice among these delegates talking about the thing I am most passionate about is both an honor and a gift. The gift that was given to me yesterday as we moved through a quite long, jam-packed day was the continuous reorientation to the center and origin of our work.

In the Gospel we were asked to reflect on during our quiet prayer, I found myself underlining two phrases that really formed the foundation of my day:

  • “He [John the Baptist] was not the light, he was to bear witness to the light.” (Jn 1: 8)
  • “He [Jesus] was in the world that had come into being through him, and the world did not recognize him.” (Jn 1: 10)

I was left reflecting at the end of the day on two questions:

  • As I continue my friendship with Jesus, born out of the Exercises, can I both co-create with the one who loves me as I am AND remember where the light I bear comes from?
  • Do I recognize my friend and introduce him to others? Can I love him back as fiercely as he loves me?

Sometimes being asked to be second can seem like a defeat, particularly when we are (like myself) highly competitive. But I think that’s what love is – it moves you to elevate the source of your love and ask “What have I done to love you well? What more can I do?” Day one of the conference definitely reminded me of that.

I am currently in Yogyakarta, Indonesia as one of twelve North American delegates, 100 global delegates overall, meeting to discuss Catholic/Jesuit identity and in-depth faith formation in Jesuit schools at II Seminar JESEDU-Jogja2024. Since I keep forgetting about the 12 hour time change and texting all those I love at 2 in the morning, I decided I would write some blog posts about the most important moments for me and perhaps the moments that might stir something in you as well. Thanks for reading! More to come!

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