Look back over the Retreat
Look back over the six sessions of this retreat and see if you can spot the places where the Lord spoke to you in prayer
We have come now to the end of our Lenten retreat, and a good way to bring it all together is to do what Jesuits, led by St Ignatius, call an ‘examen’. This is a prayer where you look back over the past (often the past twenty-four hours) and ask where God has been in that time. What I suggest you do now is to look back over the six sessions of this retreat (or however many you managed to complete) and see if you can spot the places where the Lord spoke to you in prayer. Sometimes we can see it long afterwards, and not immediately following the prayer itself.
In session one, we looked at Jesus’ cleansing of the leper, which happened straight after the Sermon on the Mount. Like the crowds, but unlike the religious leaders, the leper got Jesus right, you remember and ‘worshipped him’. Lepers in such a society are utterly alienated, but Jesus was not remotely bothered, and ‘touched him’. He was then healed.
Can you remember what you felt like when Jesus reached out and touched the leper?
Was God there for you at that moment?
In the second session, we saw Jesus healed the centurion’s son. We saw how odd it was that it was an unbelieving centurion who approached him, how amazed Jesus was at his faith, and how the healing happened immediately, and at a distance.
When you prayed this session, did you remember any occasion when you had experienced God’s healing mercy? What did that feel like?
Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was our focus of healing in session three. We saw that the little group went home after the Sabbath service in the synagogue; and we were introduced to the mother-in-law, sick in bed, a woman (and in the women’s quarters, presumably), in danger of death, and therefore in at least two ways ritually impure. We saw that, despite this, Jesus touched her, and she was ‘raised up’ and started to serve them.
Do you remember how you felt when you heard this extraordinary story? Was God there at that time?
Look back over the Retreat (continued)
How is the Lord inviting you to continue the journey?
In session four, we encountered the Gadarene demoniac. We saw that the two men who were possessed by demons came out of the tombs, a clear (and noisy) threat to humanity. Jesus, by contrast, was quietly authoritative; they did most of the talking. Then, a after the dramatic healing, and what happened to the pigs, the inhabitants of Gadara wanted him to get out of town.
Do you recall how you felt when you prayed this session? Did you feel any sympathy for the inhabitants who wanted Jesus to go away? What do you want to say to Jesus now?
For session five, we imagined the scene of Jesus healing a paralytic. We saw how Jesus came on the boat from Gadara, and how ‘they’ brought him a paralytic on a stretcher. To our astonishment, Jesus told him, ‘Your sins are being forgiven’. This annoyed the religious leaders who were present – they thought he was ‘blaspheming’ (a lethal accusation). Then, to demonstrate his power, he tells the paralytic to ‘rise up, lift up your bed – and go home’. And he did! The crowds, the story tells us, ‘were afraid’.
How did you feel as you heard the words, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘take up your bed and walk’? Or when Jesus’ opponents accused him of blasphemy?
And finally in session six, we saw, was two stories, wrapped one around the other. There was the official whose daughter had died, and a woman who had had a menstrual disorder for twelve years. Both women are healed instantaneously, despite the crowds and the jeering.
How did you feel as you saw these two women restored? What do you think God was saying to you?
Now look back over the whole Lenten journey of ‘healing and mercy’, and try and remember the impact that it had on you.
Did you find that the Scripture stories ‘came alive’ and spoke into the circumstances of your life?
What do you think that God might have been saying to you in these six sessions?
Lent is now coming to its end. How is the Lord inviting you to continue the journey?