Place yourself in the presence of the Lord and pray for enlightenment. Relax. Breathe deeply. Run quickly over the past few hours or days, allowing your real feelings to surface about the events that have been part of your life, the feelings you’ve buried so that you could make it through the day.
Pay attention to the way in which the Lord has been present to you. Where have you felt drawn to the Lord or moved to acceptance? Where have you met the Lord when you felt afraid … misunderstood … tempted … relieved … happy? Turn to the Lord with gratitude.
Choose one incident or reaction that stands out particularly for you at this time and which is still not settled for you. Recall to mind the details of the incident and its context, the people involved, and how you feel about it.
Read in the Bible Peter and the Risen Jesus (John 21:15-19)
Allow Peter to show you how to accept a challenging reality by trusting in the Lord’s love.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ (Jn 21:15-19)
This scene is the first time that the evangelist John shows Peter speaking with Jesus after he denied him three times during the Passion. Surely Peter is nervous; he knows that he has abandoned the mission that God gave him in a very real sense. He does not run away in shame, however. Instead, he draws close to the Lord’s love, knowing that it is exactly where he belongs.
And so, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him, giving him an opportunity to make up for each of the three times that he denied him. Peter accepts the reality of his past, but does not allow his past mistakes to prevent him from confidently saying that he loves Jesus. It is this acceptance that allows Peter to fully live the life that God has planned for him to help start the early Church.
As you reflect again upon the incident or reaction you have chosen for your examen, imagine that you are in Peter’s place. Are you willing to tell the Lord everything that happened, not only in the situation but in your own heart? If you feel any resistance to sharing an aspect of the incident with the Lord, why do you think that is? Jesus knows every aspect of the situation and he looks at you with great love. He does not want you to live in a past with regret, but to accept his love in the present. What would it be like to entrust the incident that you chose for your examen to the Lord’s care?
God’s great love for you is made manifest in the experiences of your life. As you make this examen, the Lord is right now moving your heart toward acceptance.
Spend some time talking over with the Lord what you are learning and experiencing. With simplicity express your sorrow for any times that you have been unable to accept the reality of a situation in your life and your gratitude for any movements you sense toward greater acceptance through God’s grace.
Identify one step toward acceptance that you want to take going forward, a step that is actually possible for you. Pray for the grace to accept God’s plan for you.