The meditation on the Two Standards is one of the key moments in the Spiritual Exercises. We’re invited to imagine two armies on a battlefield. One under Satan’s standard; the other under Christ’s. Each army operates in completely different ways with sharply contrasting values. What Christ thinks is important is humility and poverty.
Roger Dawson, SJ, writes that we’re faced with a paradox:
We see this paradox throughout the Gospels: he calls us into poverty, to take up our cross every day and to renounce ourselves. He tells us that if you really want life you are going to have to lose your life and if you want genuine richness you have to be poor. It may be challenging, but once we make that step, then we begin to share in the richness of God and to see that all we have in this world is given to us by God. When we appreciate these gifts as gifts, rather than something to which we are entitled, we can learn a genuine sense of gratitude, wonder and awe for these gifts, and we can begin to realise that the only possession we ever need is God. In this relationship I see myself as I really am and more importantly know that I am loved for who I am, not because of status, title, job, money or possessions – none of these lasts and ultimately none of these matters. That is what the Meditation on the Two Standards is showing us.