Reflection: Finding God in Memory

14 March 2021|Thomas Doran

JRS food distribution in Erbil, Iraq (Kristof Holvenyi)

The concept of memory is central to the Catholic Faith. Every Mass, we see the priest raise the Eucharist and say Christ’s words, “Do this in memory of me.” In the Examen prayer, we look back in memory of our day, finding God in moments of consolation and desolation. In last week’s Sunday reading, God expresses His very identity in remembrance of an ancient migration, the Exodus. “I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.”

This week’s Responsorial Psalm depicts another ancient migration, the Babylonian Exile. Here, the Israelites weep by the rivers of Babylon, remembering their homeland in Zion. “Let my tongue be silenced, if I forget you!” Today, internally displaced persons scatter those same lands near ancient Babylon. In the picture above, an Iraqi woman receives humanitarian aid in war-torn Erbil.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus, like God, looks to the past to define Himself in the present. He recalls the bronze serpent Moses raised before the Hebrew refugees in the wilderness. Just as the serpent heals all the snake-bitten refugees who look upon it, Jesus heals all who look upon Him. Through Jesus, we have the promise of eternal life.

For prayer today, I suggest finding a silent place to sift through your memory. Particularly, I want you to go back to your earliest encounter with God. What was this moment like? What do you feel as you remember it? After sitting with this memory for a few minutes, I invite you to express the memory in words, art, or music. Concretizing your memory will not only deepen your spiritual sense here and now. It will also give you a personal and God-inspired memento to carry with you into the future.

Thomas Doran is a Jesuit novice from Omaha, Nebraska. He is working with JRS/USA as a part of Jesuit formation called “Long Experiment.” Thomas will share weekly reflections during Lent. Click here to see his reflection from last week.