We see need in our everyday world in many different ways- in our relationships, on our streets, in our workplace, in our families, and in our communities. How are we called to respond to the needs of other people? What are you uniquely called to offer others? Are you especially called to serve the suffering and marginalized in our midst? This meeting invites members to reflect on how they have experienced God’s call to service, and how they are currently being invited to respond to that call. The focus passage for this meeting will be John 21:15-19, in which the resurrected Christ appears to Peter and asks him three times, “Do you love me?” and each time Jesus invites Peter to express his love by tending to the flock. Through meditation on Peter’s encounter with the resurrected Christ, members will be invited to consider their own invitation to love God through service to others.
The Peter passage very easily lends itself to Ignatian Contemplation, and you are encouraged to do so if you feel it would benefit your group. The following meeting format offers another way to encounter the themes of the passage by incorporating a reading by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Through her reflection, “Guadalupe: The Path of the Broken Heart,” Estes creatively presents the themes of the Peter passage, showing how God’s call to live a life of service is presented to us through unlikely people and experiences. The question, “Do you love me?” presents itself over and over again if we keep our eyes “truly open.”
- Instrumental music
- Copies of the reading
- Papers with the journal questions and something to write with
Ask for the grace to hear Jesus’ call to express our love of God through service to others.
Can you notice a time this week when you either served another person or were served by another person?
Explain that the following passage of Peter’s call to service will frame the meeting. Invite the group to close their eyes and let the words sink in to their hearts.
Read the following passage aloud and offer a brief prayer at the end.
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” John 21:15-19
Dear Jesus, in the same way that you persistently pursue Peter, we know that you pursue us and call for our own hearts and hands in service. Open our minds and hearts to your invitation to love you, serve you, and follow you. Help us to see the ways in which you are calling us to love you through our service to others. Amen.
Now, hand out copies of “Guadalupe: The Path of the Broken Heart” and the journal questions.
Invite two group members to read the piece aloud, alternating paragraphs. As you begin, invite the group to take notice of the images and words that move and/or challenge you. Let them know that when the reading is finished, everyone is invited to spend time in quiet journaling before we share together.
When the reading has concluded, introduce the journaling time. Invite the group to take their time in responding thoughtfully and prayerfully to the journal questions. If a question does not seem to resonate with them, encourage them to feel free to skip it and move on to the next one. What is important is that everyone tries to truly listen to and express the movements in their hearts. If that means doing a free-write, that is okay as well. Feel free to play instrumental music during the reflection time.
- What words or images from the story stand out to you, move you, or challenge you?
- The author experienced moment after moment of call—do you love me? Yes. Then visit me, care for me, help me. She called these moments “post-consecration callings” and they often came from unexpected, scary, and broken places. Who or what has called the love out of you, asking for ‘your heart and hands in service’? Draw or write about three moments in your life when you have experienced a sense of “calling.” How did you feel? Did you recognize these moments/people as God at the time?
- Guadalupe appeared to our author dressed as hobo people, prisoners, unwed mothers, patients in hospitals, etc. Each time they asked her, “Do you love me?”
- In your life right now, who is God dressing up as? Who is the messenger revealing God’s question to you, “Do you love me?” How do you feel when you are with this person/people? How might God be calling you to show them love through service?
- As you finish your reflection, write your desires and prayer to God/Jesus.
- Invite members to share. You can either go question by question, or let people share from whatever question around which they have the most energy.
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or commonalities?
- How have you been feeling throughout the meeting? Comfortable? Anxious? Curious?
- Is there anything you would like to share after listening to another person share?
For the next week until we meet again, consider accepting the invitation of Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ aunt: “In the next (seven) days, you will see (seven) things that will call for your help, your hands, your heart for the rest of your life.” Approach each day with your eyes open to the unique ways God is calling you, and journal about these each day.
You can invite people to read or express the prayers that they journaled about earlier. Consider closing with St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity.
Dear Lord, teach me to be generous,
Teach me to serve you as I should,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
To labor and ask not for reward,
Save that of knowing that I do your most holy will.
St. Ignatius of Loyola
“This law of love, which the Spirit inscribes in our hearts, expresses itself anew in each situation of our daily lives. This Spirit-inspired love respects the uniqueness of each personal vocation and enables us to be open and free, always at the disposal of God.” (CLC-USA General Principles #2)
“Christ has sent us on a mission…we are to become identified with His mission of bringing the good news to the poor, proclaiming liberty to captives and to the blind, new sight, setting the downtrodden free and proclaiming the Lord’s year of favor. Our life is essentially apostolic.”
(CLC-USA General Principles #8)
“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did I to me.” Matthew 25:37-40
“After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” John 13:12-15