Gospel Contemplation: Proclaim the Good News
Gospel Contemplation is a way of praying that St. Ignatius proposes quite frequently in his Spiritual Exercises. You are invited to use your imagination to enter the scene, to take part, to let the scene unfold. As Ignatius suggests, notice the people, listen to them, watch what they do [SE, 106, 107, 108]. Perhaps you may sense an invitation to be one of the individuals in the scene and engage in a conversation with one of them. You can do this on your own, or use the text below as a guide.
If this way of praying is new – simply relax and try to become engaged in the scene. Try not to worry about what you are “supposed to” be doing. If you find yourself distracted during your prayer, very gently bring yourself back to the scripture text or your imaginative contemplation.
If at any point during the guided contemplation your imagination comes to life in such a way that God invites to you stay with a particular moment, follow the invitation that you sense, rather than move on to where the written contemplation is going. In that case you might want to stop reading and continue on your own.
Quiet your body and mind
- Choose a position where you can be relaxed but alert.
- Breathe deeply several times and let your body relax
- Breathe out any worries or stressful thoughts and put them in God’s hands
- Become aware of God’s presence here with you now, looking at you with love.
Ask for a grace
- Ask God for the grace of whatever you desire most right now. If you’re not sure what to ask for, you might ask for the grace to share the good news.
Read the scripture passage
Read the passage slowly, savoring the words and beginning to imagine the scene. Read it twice if that helps you to visualize it.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.’
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.
Where, in your imagination, does this scene take place? Mark’s Gospel says that the disciples had been at table when Jesus suddenly appeared. You are with them. Are still at table, or have you all gone somewhere else -- perhaps outside for a walk? Wherever you are, take in your surroundings for a moment.
What do you see?
What are your surroundings like?
Who is around you?
What is the temperature like, and if you are outdoors, what is the weather?
What do you hear?
What do you smell?
Spend a few moments soaking it all in.
Jesus has begun speaking to all of you. He is giving you a mission, in a way that’s more profound than ever before. “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.”
What do you feel as he says this to you? Do you feel joy, trepidation, confusion, confidence? What do you feel?
What might it mean for you?
How do you respond to what Jesus says about believers and the signs that accompany them? Let your imagination unfold. Do you talk with the other disciples, do you question Jesus?
After the reaction to Jesus’ words dies down, he is taken up in to heaven. How does he say farewell to you and to the others?
As you watch him go, however he goes, what do you feel?
Now that he has gone, how will you proclaim the good news to all creation, being open to the Lord working with you?
Now spend a few moments with one of the other disciples about what you have imagined, felt, and thought about in this prayer, and listen to their response as well.
And when you are ready, close with a favorite prayer.
Review of Prayer
St. Ignatius recommends that we review our prayer. A written review has many advantages. It enables us to look back on our prayer experience, and to notice what happened. It allows us to be fully present to our experience of prayer. We do not write while we are praying. The review of prayer enables us not to judge ourselves or look for how well we are doing. It helps us to become more sensitive to how God is speaking to us in the here and now. It is also a precious record of our journey with God, which nourishes wholeness and integration.
Some questions to assist with your review:
What happened in your prayer?
What feelings did you experience?
During the prayer period, when did you feel encouraged?
When did you feel discouraged?
Did you receive the grace you asked for?
What did you receive?