Let’s recap our three-day retreat
with the two hands of Jesus,
based on the two symbolic actions of our Lord
that we have focused on during this retreat:
The hand that washes, from the “Washing of the Feet,” and
the hand that whips, from the “Cleansing of the Temple.”
These hands stand for the two kinds of love that the Risen Lord shows us:
The tender love expressed in humble and loving feet-washing,
and a tough love manifested in courageous temple-cleansing.
The way our Lord acts towards us–
whether he offers us tender love or tough love–
depends on where we are in the spiritual life,
and is based on what we need,
not on what we want.
Obviously we all prefer tender love to tough love,
but there are times in our lives when it is tough love
that we need, and that is what we will get from the Risen Lord.
In his Rules
for the Discernment of Spirits,
St. Ignatius of Loyola offers us
two simple guidelines:
When we are going
from “good to better,”
God speaks to us gently
to encourage us in our efforts.
He uses the language of peace–
St. Ignatius compares God’s action
to that of “water on a sponge.”
In other words, what we get
is tender love.
However, if we are going
from “bad to worse,”
God gives us pangs of conscience.
His language is intended to disturb us
and give us a wake-up call.
Here St. Ignatius uses the metaphor
of “water on rock.”
This time it’s tough love that we get
because that’s what we need.
Think about your life
and ask yourself which hand of the Lord
you need in its different areas.
Which aspects of your life
do you think you need the hand of the Lord “that washes”–
i.e., his tender love?
And in which other areas do you think
you could benefit from the hand of the Lord “that whips,”
his tough love?