Labouring with the Divine

S. Arulanandam, S.J (NEP)

Sarvam Christum (Christ is everywhere). “The world is full of grandeur of our Lord” as Hopkins says. Are we aware of it or do we open our inner eyes to see it or experience it? A Jesuit worldview begins with Ignatius’ experiences of the divine in Menresa, river Cardoner and La Storta. We understand that everything comes from God and returns to God. God is present in creation and so our mother earth is sacred. Finding God in all things and all things in God is our spirituality. These foundational experiences of our founding fathers are the corner stone for our life and mission.

I realize more and more that my life is a gift. In and through this gift, the Lord is revealing himself to me and he is toiling and labouring with me every day. Hence, my work is to liberate humanity from the evils of the world along with that Divine. God invites me to work with Him against every form of suffering, oppression, poverty and injustice.

Our worldview also goes closely with Buddhist understanding of: Sarvam Dukkam, meaning ‘the world is full of suffering’. This is Lord Buddha’s contribution towards enlightenment. The paths are different but our end is the same: ‘eradicate suffering’. 

I am working in the midst of multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural groups in Nepal. The above Buddhist worldview helps me to work with them to move toward eradicating suffering. My belief is that God’s presence is everywhere and he is with me with his grace. This helps me to overcome any difficulty. This has been my experience particularly with the earthquake victims. 

An example will explain how God’s loving care was expressed in a very simple way. I was going to a remote village for women’s training programme. It was a rainy day. The road was very bad. After a long struggle, we reached the village. In the afternoon, I went to have my lunch. Before I entered a restaurant, I sat on a small wooden bench outside. Within a few second, an old man, above 80-year-old sitting nearby, got up and moved towards me with a chair on which he was sitting. He told me, “Father you do not sit on that wet wooden bench. You will be sick. Use this chair”. This simple act speaks magnanimity of his heart and love of God.

We are dependent beings. We dependent on our mother earth for natural resources, humanity to experience love and God for existence. We are born to live, to share and to serve. Our existence has meaning only when we serve humanity. As our lord said ‘I have come to serve not be served’. This mantra is my supportive slogan for my work. Our Ignatian spirituality sheds more light on how to labour and shoulder with Christ. Many Jesuits have shown the way to travel on this path. Jesuits entered Nepal in 1951 and showed the way for our mission work. Last 70 years we have been in education, social, Pastoral, and other missionary activities in Nepal. Our activities are rooted in our mother Church because Church is involved in our Lord’s redemptive mission. This gives me energy to carry on my work.

From my formation days, I have been involved in social work. Even while working in the College, I was engaged in social work activities. Social responsibility and work for just society is our motto. From GC 32 onwards we are involved in socio-economic and spiritual upliftment of vulnerable humanity. Reign of God begins here on earth so let us prepare the humanity to share, to love and to create a just society here on earth. I believe that our Lord came to earth to make everyone human and lead us to Divinity. Where there is true humanity, there is Divinity. So let us work for true humanity.

Desolation is part of our daily spiritual process. It is a process of discernment. We Jesuits must not only be aware of discernment but it must become part our way of life. In my work, there were many occasions when I felt dry, confused, experienced darkness not knowing where to move. These moments led me to desolation. As Alexander Graham Bell says, ‘when one door closes another opens’. This is the key mantra to overcome desolation.

I would like end with some reflection from an ancient Indian wisdom. “Tatvam Asi”. This means, “You are that” or in other words ‘you are the divine Being’. This worldview resonates well with our understanding that the Divine is our Father and we are God’s sons and daughters.