The Sacred Scripture text yesterday was Jesus calling his disciples. As the story goes, Jesus is walking along the Sea of Galilee, and he sees James and John fishing. He calls to them, “Come follow me. I will make you fishers of people.” They drop their nets and follow him.
Every year when this Scripture comes up, I sit with this Call. What was it that James and John heard that had them dropping their nets and following Jesus?
Seriously, they did not know who he was. John the Baptist had been proclaiming that someone would come. No one knew who that someone was.
Jesus has just returned from the desert, from his time in the wilderness. He has not yet developed a name or a following.
Put yourself in the place of James and John.
This is called Prayer of the Imagination. St Ignatius of Loyola teaches this prayer in his Spiritual Exercises as a way of engaging through our imagination a scene out of Scripture that involves the life, death, or resurrection of Jesus. It invites us to engage the story with all our senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch). As we enter deeper into the prayer and the story, it invites us to let go of our imagination’s control over the story and give Spirit our imagination, give Spirit the story to continue to tell. When we are able to let go of our control, to give it over to Spirit, we can enter into conversation with Jesus in that story, and allow Spirit to engage us in dialogue.
To begin, find a place where you will be by yourself undisturbed. A quiet comfortable place where you feel safe and opens you to prayer.
Settle in. Take a few deep breaths into your heart to awaken your heart.
Read Matthew 4:12-23. As you read it, simply take in the details.
Now close your eyes. Imagine yourself in the story. Imagine yourself as any character you feel called to be – Peter, Andrew, James, John, Zebedee.
Spend a few moments engaging all your senses:
What sounds do you hear?
What are the smells there in the Sea of Galilee?
Is there any taste that is arising as you enter the scene? A splash from the water?
Feel the nets in your hands, the water against your body.
In your imagination engage those around you. What are Peter and Andrew chatting about as they work? What is happening between James, John, and their father? Let yourself sink into the moment and lose yourself in the work of being a fisherman in Biblical times. Prepare the nets – maybe they need untangling or mending.
As you dive into the scene, into this moment, give to Spirit your imagination and allow Spirit to continue the story. You still have your ownership of who you are and your choices and words and emotions. Spirit is driving the story.
Listen to Jesus’ call.
Notice what happens in you when you hear that call. Do you want to go? Is there uncertainty? Excitement? Curiosity? Allow yourself to feel into the emotions of the moment.
Look around you. Notice what the disciples saw, what they felt, what they yearned for.
Then answer. Your answer.
Allow Jesus to engage you in that moment. See yourself walking toward Jesus, offering your answer. Listen to his response.
In this prayer, dialogue with him about this Call he is giving you. Share your feelings, thoughts, concerns, fears, hopes, passion. Welcome his thoughts, feelings, hopes, concerns, passion.
When you feel like the dialogue has come to a place to completeness, thank Jesus for showing up on the shore and Calling you to follow him. Thank Spirit for guiding this Prayer of the Imagination.
Come back fully to your body, to the present moment. Breathe. Reorient to the room. Ground yourself back fully into your body.
Offer a prayer. You may offer the Lord’s Prayer or another prayer that is meaningful to you as a way of closing this time together.
May your experience of the Prayer of the Imagination bring a deeper meaning to your sense of Call, to your understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. May you be open to what Jesus wants to share with you.