Thursday, March 5, 2015

Spirituality: The Magis

Typically, the word magis is used to encourage persons to be all that they can, to excel in all endeavors, and to be generous and gracious. We love homegrown superstars in athletics, academics, and extra-curricular activities because they embody the values we espouse. We applaud the people who take on more than what is expected - those who seem to succeed in everything and are at the top of their fields. It is natural to expect this excellence at schools and universities.

But…

…be cautious.

These are some comments I heard people mistakenly make about the magis:

·      You should work without pay. That is the magis.
·      I’m asking you to take on another commitment. Don’t worry about having a Saturday morning free. You can rest during the summer. Do it for the magis.
·      Make the sacrifice. We need you to do this. What you think you want for yourself doesn’t matter so much. Give entirely of yourselves and live the magis.

The magis has everything to do with one’s relationship to the Eternal Lord, specifically in response to the Call of the King that bridges a retreatant from the First Week into the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises. It has very little to do with our activities and accomplishments. The magis is more about committing to “being with Jesus” rather than a “doing with Jesus.” A characteristic of this magis is compassion as we seek the grace to be with or stay with Jesus in his greatest work.

At the end of the First Week, we feel our need for salvation because we have chaos inside of us that is beyond our control. We need to see God with a forgiving love, a saving God whose face is made manifest in Jesus and who offers us a surprising friendship. Our response to the Call of the King evokes the magis. It is in saying yes to the relationship to the One who makes sense of our disorder and sinfulness. Our response goes beyond the excellence because we make a covenant to remain by the side of Jesus as he goes about his work of saving each one of us. Our magis response reorders our life as we commit beyond excellence to the person of Jesus and to his work.

The magis then is to be faithful to the way Jesus wants us to live in response to him. There is the expected time that we naturally give over to our relationship to him each day. We call this prayer – a time of conversation to check in and see how each other is doing and to note how each other is feeling.

It is harmful for us to say “yes” to everything. We have to discern what is most important for our relationship with Jesus Christ. That might mean finding some time each day or each week to relax and rejuvenate oneself – whether by reading for pleasure, taking a solitary walk, or engaging in a hobby that brings out our creative expressions. The magis begs prudential self-care. Discern well before you say “yes” or “no.” We have to learn when God’s invitations are nestled in the initiatives of others.

Yes, we are in the practice of forming disciples and apostles. We want them likewise to be scholars, athletes, and artists. We want them to be worthy citizens of the world. Let us help each other live out the magis by supporting each other in our affective response to the Lord’s invitations. We do not live for ourselves, but for a higher purpose.

All for the Greater Glory of God.