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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

The Five Phases of Spiritual Growth

by Fr. David M. Knight


June 3, 2024: Monday of the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs

Lectionary 353

2 Pt 1:2-7/Mk 12:1-12



2Peter 1:2-7: The “twin concerns” of this letter are 1. that we not “be led into error”  but  2. instead, “grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.” For this we need to “provide” ourselves with seven qualities in a “climactic gradation beginning with faith and leading to the fullness of Christian life, which is love.” If we do, God will “generously provide [same verb] entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.”[i]


It is extraordinary how this “climactic gradation” parallels the “five phases” of spiritual growth listed in the first “five phrases” of the Our Father.


First we need awareness in faith that we have “come to share in the divine nature,” and are children of “Our Father in heaven,” called to goodness: virtue that is divine.


Divine virtue calls for knowledge (gnosis) of the mind and heart of God. This leads us to commit ourselves to discipleship: “Hallowed be thy Name!”


But knowledge is useless unless we add self-control by “escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.” The witness of this freedom allows us to dedicate ourselves to the mission of proclaiming that the reign of God has begun: “Thy Kingdom come!”


To self-control we must add perseverance, so that our freedom will be constant and consistent enough to constitute a way of life inexplicable without the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.” This makes us prophets.


But self-control can become an idol of rigid self-possession. So to perseverance in a radical lifestyle we must add devotion, which makes everything we do an act of loyal, loving surrender to the person of God. Our prayer becomes “Thy will be done.”


For devotion to God to be authentic we must add friendship (philadelphia) or “caring love for brothers and sisters.” Now our mission as prophets embraces ministry as priests.

Caring kindness must blossom into love, philadelphia into agape. This self-giving love is the “fullness of Christian life.” When perfect, it is total abandonment of all desires but one: “entry [for ourselves and others] into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” We are stewards of his kingship. All we ask now is “Give us this day...”  the Bread of the wedding banquet, where all are forgiven and forgiving in unity and peace.


Mark 12:1-12 exposes the unfaithful stewardship of those whose decline was a refusal of every step above. They lacked faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, devotion, friendship and love.

 

Decision: Commit to growth. See how one step leads to another. Make them all.


Prayer:  In you, my God, I place  my trust. (Responsorial: Psalm 91)


[i] See New American Bible Revised Edition notes.


Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry




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