In chapter three of Mark’s gospel, Jesus calls the 12 apostles to be with him and be sent out to preach and expel demons. Jesus’ call was to be in close intimacy with him and to share in his own mission. Not one-or-the-other, but both-and.
Some believe that one of these two things is more important than the other, for instance, that intimacy is more fundamental than work. But at least in Ignatian spirituality they are seen as two sides of one coin.
Thus, Ignatius told his retreatants to earnestly pray for a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus. But he also instructed them to ask just as fervently for the grace of hearing Jesus’ call to share his mission. Ignatius believed that in shared labor his followers would become closer to Christ and this closeness would lead to a more significant and lasting work for the glory of God and the coming of God’s Kingdom on earth.
No matter how one sees them related, Lent can be a good time to examine how strong are the two pillars of discipleship (intimacy with Christ and shared labor with him) and see if, in our lives, they actually do feed into each other and support each other.