Easter and The Office of Consoler

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Christ is Risen! Happy Easter! When St. Ignatius invites us to pray with the Resurrection of the Lord, he invites us to “consider the office of consoler that Christ our Lord exercises, and compare it with the way in which friends are wont to console each other.”

The office of consoler! I’ve always liked that phrase. It sums up so much about the ways in which we could be so present to one another, if we shared our own consolation with those around us.

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Let’s look at some of the ways in which the Resurrected Lord fulfills the office of consoler. Remember the experience of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. They go to the tomb and are told that Jesus has been raised. Later, when they met him, he said, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee.” The women are among the first evangelists. Jesus commissions the disciples to “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations.”

Offering consolation is associated with encouraging one another to not be fearful, but to go and spread the Good News to others. The consolation from the Risen Jesus is a reminder of his abiding presence. What comforting words they are for people who are discouraged by the fearful reality of our world. “Be not be afraid. Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” And this presence is one of peace. “Peace be with you.”

One of my favourite Resurrection stories is The Walk to Emmaus. I love how the eyes of the disciples were opened, so that they recognized the Risen Lord. “Were not our hearts burning within us, while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”

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They were sad at the start of the walk, but not after the fire is kindled. They go forward and share their consolation and desire with their companions. Part of the consolation offered by the Lord is that of revelation and apostolic energy and enthusiasm. Their hearts were on fire. Jesus reminds his followers on the shores of Tiberias that their place is to “feed my sheep.”

Jesus continues to play that role, particularly through our actions. The ministry of consolation occurs when we release people from their fears, when we bring them peace, when we evangelize, when we help them to recognize Christ, and when we give them hope.

It was St. Teresa of Avila (1515–1582), in Christ Has No Body who reminds us that we are the body of Christ.

Christ has no body but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,

Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Most of us would love to live our lives in the spirit of the Resurrection. That’s not possible. Too much in our lives and the world conspires against that. That’s probably okay. If we were living in bliss, we would no longer have need for God.

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Easter grace is elusive and hard to pin down. I think of it whenever I pray with the Canticle of Zechariah, from Luke’s Gospel: “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

It’s important to let the Resurrection’s grace do what it did for the disciples heading to Emmaus: Let it set our hearts on fire!

 

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

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