It can be hard for a Dominican to speak about a Jesuit without mentioning at least in some way some slight dig. The Jesuits and the Dominicans have certainly had their share historically of what might be called a fierce sibling rivalry. But the beauty of God, is God’s overwhelming desire for each one of us to become holy. The second Vatican Council stressed this personal call to holiness in its documents. What that means for us on a day like today is that everybody is called to express the holiness of God in a way that is unique to them.
In the United States it can be easy to forget that the Jesuits are a missionary order, because early in the history of the order there was an attraction universities. Great Jesuit Saints like Francis Xavier for example, were not pleased with the desire of the Jesuits to be active in universities. In our country, one of the most common ways we experience the Jesuit order, through high schools and colleges and universities.
It is not to suggest that colleges and universities, or high schools, are not the places where missionary activity can occur. Quite the opposite. When one considers the place and role of academic institutions the lives of high school and college students, what place could be better suited to helping these students to ask the big questions in their lives but God, meaning and purpose?
We certainly cannot talk about St. Ignatius without mentioning this great gift of spirituality to the Church, in the spiritual exercises that bear his name. His experiences of being confined to bed ridden because of injuries of war, led him to discover a method of discernment, between those things that lead us closer to God, and those things that do not. To be sure, the work that is entailed in the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, require brutally honest spiritual assessment.
But that brutally honest spiritual assessment is precisely what image is being given to us today in the reading from Jeremiah. Allowing ourselves to be formed by God is not easy. Entering honestly into an experience like the 30 day Ignatian exercises is not easy either. This is because it is not easy to allow God to make us, form us, shape us into those people who are capable of the personal holiness to which each one of us called.
But if we allow ourselves to be placed into the hands of the potter who is God, if we allow our ourselves to be shaped and molded, just like St. Ignatius, we will be unable to imagine the greatness that God is placed inside each one of us.