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The Servant's Only Strength

Creighton University's web site on the 35th General Convention of the Society of Jesus has posted the homily (click the first link under "Latest News") preached by newly elected Father General Adolfo Nicolas, S.J. Here is an excerpt:

The prophet Isaiah says that serving pleases the Lord. To serve is what counts: to serve the Church, the world, our fellow men and women, and the Gospel. Saint Ignatius also has written in summary form about our life: in all things to love and to serve. And our pope, Holy Father Benedict XVI, has reminded us that God is love; he has reminded us of the Gospels essence.

Later on the prophet Isaiah describes the servants strength. God is the servants only strength. We do not have any other source of strength: not the external strength found in politics, in business, in the media, in studies, in titles, nor the internal fortitude found in research. Only God. Exactly like the poor. Not too long ago I spoke to one of you regarding something that happened to me while working with immigrants. It was an experience that deeply affected me. A Filipino woman who had experienced many difficulties adapting to the Japanese society, a woman who had suffered a great deal, was asked by another Filipino woman for advice. The second woman said, I have many problems with my husband and I do not know if I should get divorced or try to savemy marriage... In other words, she wanted advice concerning a rather common problem.

The first woman replied, I do not know what advice to give you right now. However, come with me to Church so that the two of us can pray because only God really helps the poor. This statement deeply touched me because it is so true. The poor only have God in whom to find their strength. For us only God is our strength. Unconditional, disinterested service finds its source of strength only in God.

There is also a beautiful slideshow of photographs from the Thanksgiving Mass, including photos of a prayer service held shortly before the Mass in the camarette, the room where Ignatius wrote the constitutions of the Society of Jesus. I found the latter photographs particularly powerful.

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Thanks for posting this and for the thread - a beautiful homily indeed .Though not addressed to the world, as the Pope's homily earlier that day, it's interesting to note that the new General sees the marginalized increading in our globalized world and in need of the service he preaches about.In these volatile times, isn't there a message there for all of us to consider?

Only God can help the poor? Then why should we even try? Hmmm.

What a profound question you pose, Ann.There is a lot that could be said in reply, but I guess the short answer would be, because we are the Body of Christ.

Many of the refugees with whom I worked in East Africa did in fact feel that only God could help them, because no one else was willing to. So I've always believed that one of the reasons God is close to the poor is because the poor are close to God. Father Nicolas's comment is an invitation to have the same kind of singlehearted reliance on God that the poor do.

Isn't there a difference between saying "Only God CAN help the poor" and "Only God DOES help the poor?

I must be dense. I took the sernmon to mean the jesuits and the rest of us readers should be servants as the Suffering Servan twas with a special care for the marganalized. In this wasy we are the light - a ligh tBenedict invited Catholics in Spes Salvi to be, following the Stella Maris.