… and the Israelites Grumbled Against God

This morning, as I read about the Israelites in the desert, I thought about how God mightily delivered them from captivity in Egypt, and, despite this, how they longed to return to Egypt because of the creature comforts provided for them there. They were willing to put back on the shackles of slavery in order to satiate their longing for leeks and onions, and their longing to eat meat again. 

When I was younger I used to think the ancient Israelites were crazy, stupid, or both.  They saw the power and might of God first hand, and still they doubted; still they sinned. At this point in my life, I better understand that I, like them, still long to live the life of sin. I still long to live a life of slavery to the flesh, a life of filling the flesh with its every wish and whim.  

However, as a Christian I am called to give up my slavery to things of the world. I am called live in the freedom provided by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.   I am called to a virtuous life whereby I use my natural abilities to curb my appetite for anything that keeps me from living the life of faith. I am called to live a life in the Spirit whereby I allow Him to supernaturalize my natural talents. I allow him to be my strength in weakness. 2 Cor 12:9. 

What a better time than Lent to spend some time training our bodies to long for heavenly things, and to learn to rely on the graces of the season as a way of bolstering our personal efforts. Maybe with His help we can enter into the season of Easter living more fully the freedom and fullness of life promised by Christ.  Maybe we can more acutely learn that choosing freedom is ultimately more fulfilling than the short term pleasure associated with giving into all our desires. Maybe, just maybe, we can learn to enjoy freedom, even if it means living in the desert.  Maybe come Easter we will have taken substantial steps towards appreciating our hard earned freedom, and stop grumbling at God because his ways are not our ways. Mk 8:33.  

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit asking him to help you identify your “leeks and onions.”  Which worldly desires and pursuits keep you from living more fully in the freedom won for you by Jesus Christ?  What commitments are you willing to make to God to put these sinful behaviors behind you, and to more fully embrace the life of faith.  Make sure you pray for the awareness of the indwelling Holy Spirit whose job it is to move us towards doing the right things. Ez 36:27. Without him our efforts will only fall short. True victory comes in understanding our littleness and in learning to rely on his guidance to help us choose virtue over vice.

In Him,

dw  

The Fig Tree and the Gardener

This morning at mass, I heard the parable of the fig tree.  In this parable, the land owner gets angry at a fig tree that hasn’t produced fruit in three years, and wants to have it cut down so it doesn’t drain the soil of nutrients.  The gardener proposes that he be allowed to tend to the tree for another year, and if it doesn’t produce fruit by then, it can be cut down. The owner agrees. (See Lk 13:1-9). 

This morning, I saw much “fruit” in this story.  First, it can be a call to analyze one’s life; to see if one is producing fruit in his or her faith life. Second, it can be a call to ponder the relationship between a Christian and the Holy Spirit or Jesus, depending on which person of the Trinity you relate to the gardener. 

In analyzing the first point, it seems important to know what is meant by “fruit in the Christian life”? Here are a few examples. If discipleship is about dying to self and cross carrying (Mk 8:34), one might ask how much progress has been made.  Another way of analyzing fruit is whether you are experiencing the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Are you experiencing heavenly knowledge, wisdom, and/or understanding? Are you manifesting the gift of tongues? Prophecy? Healing? Are you growing in the virtues of faith, hope, and/or love?  In addition, people who are bearing fruit should be drawn into some form of selfless apostolic work. I say selfless because it seems to me that dying to self means one is becoming selfless.  

Second, what does the gardener’s efforts towards tending the fig tree tell us about the spiritual life?  Again, there are many ways of explaining this, and here is one example. Scripture talks about baptism being a transformative event. When we get baptized, we allow the Holy Spirit to take up residency within us, and it is his job to sanctify us; to lead us in the way of Truth.  This job takes a lot of effort, and the entirety of our Christian lives.  

How does it work?  It is hard to explain, but I’ll give you a personal example.  Several years ago, I was reading “The Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales.  In the early part of the book, he provides several meditations for the reader to try.  I read the meditation on pride, and I closed my eyes to ponder his words.  I invited the Holy Spirit in, and I accidentally fell asleep. (Luckily, St. Therese of Lisieux tells us not to worry about occasionally falling asleep in prayer.)  When I awoke, I had this understanding that I had been healed of a layer of pride.  I knew that while still proud, I was less proud that I had been before starting my prayer.  As I said, it is hard to explain. Still, when we invite the Holy Spirit into our activities, he works with us to remove everything that is sinful from our lives.  

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit pondering your own faith life.  Are any promises contained in Scripture manifesting in your life? Are you allowing the gardener to do his job of tending to you?  Jot down a few thoughts and any action items you intend to take to improve this area of your life. 

In Him,

dw

On Being Christian

I don’t know about you, but I want to be the best Christian I can be.  This is what I want, but this is not always what I do.   I find peace in knowing that Paul, too, struggled with this. He didn’t always succeed in doing the good.   Rom. 7:19.  We have probably all encountered this interior struggle between wanting things of the world and things of Heaven.  

It is important to understand that the body is not bad.  The body is drawn towards good things.  Unfortunately, there is a big difference between created goods / earthly things, and the perfect good, the Heavenly good, which is God.  A major part of living a better Christian life has to do with retraining the will towards giving up lesser goods in favor of the greatest good.  For example, food.  Food is good, but too much food or food that doesn’t properly nourish the body is not so good. We need food to live, but gluttony crosses the line.  When we sin by doing things like gluttony, we close ourselves off from the greater good of God. We fill our longing and hunger for good with lesser goods, instead of filling our selves with God. 

How do we retrain the will? I recently read that reading Scripture helps to educate the will on the greater good, which influences our ability to choose the greater good.  (Michelle Jones, The Gospel Mysticism of Ruth Burrows: Going to God with Empty Hands).  I also just read that love is the best motivator for changing behavior. (Art Bennett, The Temperament God Gave You). 

For love to motivate us, we must first come to know the one we want to love. We come to know someone by talking to them.  Thus, meditating on Scripture, which is the word of God, is a way of talking with God.  It teaches us truth about him, about who we are, and what a proper relationship between creator and created should look like.  We are drawn to the good, and Truth is good.  Plus, the more we know God through Scripture, the more we love him.  In fact, I think this is what John meant when he said we love him because he first loved us. 1 Jn 4:19.  When we realize just how amazing his love is, how much more perfect than the love we receive from humans, we respond to his love with love. 

At the same time, there is still resistance.  We want to be the be all – end all in our lives. Being Christian is about dying to self so that we can be open to receiving God’s love, and in so doing, grow in greater love of him.  Being Christian means constantly deeper and deeper conversion in response to God’s love and mercy.  Being Christian means admitting our short comings, and relying on the Holy Spirit to be our strength in weakness.  2 Cor 12:10.  None of this is easy. All of this feels contrary to our nature.  However, if we have faith, then living our lives according to Scripture will reap rewards such as peace, joy, and love.  Unfortunately, reaping those rewards first requires that we begin acts of dying to self (curbing our desire for lesser goods) (Mk 8:33); we must first become disciples in act and deed. 

In the meantime, do not be surprised if you stumble along the way; if you find yourself in patterns of choosing lesser goods.  Just turn to him, recognize that you are weak, and ask him to show you how to curb your appetite for worldly things; how to desire him more than things of the world.

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit asking him to grant you the grace to love him more. Ask him that through this love you might choose more and more often the greater good over the lesser goods. Ask him to help you in your self-discipline, in exercising your will in favor of the greater good.  If needed, ask him to help you humble yourself, to accept your weaknesses, and to turn to him in love. 

In Him,

dw 

Dying With Christ This Lent

As we enter into this season of Lent, let us reflect for a moment on what this season is all about.  One way of looking at it is that it is a time of dying with Christ so that we might rise more fully with him this Easter.  

First, what is it that needs to die so that we might rise?  Our tendency towards sin.  Humans come into the world naturally craving the good; however, we all too often choose the lesser goods of God’s creation over the greater goodness of God.  Lent is a good time to curb our worldly desires so that we might more fully live the life he wants us to live.  

In addition, God created humanity to be in relationship with himself.  Most of us have a tendency to march to the beat of a different drummer.  We want to make our own decisions.  We want to do things that make us feel good or increase our prestige in the eyes of the world. So often, these and similar desires lead us away from this deeper union with God.  

By finding ways to die to self we open ourselves to the greater good, which is God, who is love.  We make room for him to live and breath within us. We clear out the voices in our head that cry out for the goods of the world, and this allows us to hear Him more clearly.  

The problem is, we are weak, and any solo effort to die to self is destined to fail, at least in part.  There is a reason that God, through the prophet Ezekiel, told us that he wanted to replace our stoney hearts with hearts of flesh; that he wanted to place his Spirit within us in order to move us towards compliance with his decrees. Ez 36:26-27.  There is a reason that Jesus had to ascend so that the Advocate could come and guide us in all truth. Jn 16:13.  We were never intended to take on the role of dying to selves by ourselves.  If we have been baptized, we have the source of all goodness residing within us.  We have within us the one who will be our strength in weakness (2 Cor 12:10). All we need to do is learn to hear him; learn to follow his lead towards holiness. 

This Lent, I encourage you to spend some time in prayer with the Holy Spirit seeking his insights on how you can take steps towards dying to self so that you might live life to the fullest (Jn 10:10). By this I mean so that you might live life in union with the Triune God who dwells within you.  Spend this Lent working with the Holy Spirit to curb your earthly desires, and learning how to follow his lead more readily. Spend time praying that he help you be open to his grace so that you might be moved away from sin and moved towards the Father who loves you.

In Him,

dw

In Weakness

Last week, I went to confession, and confessed my holiday blues and the sloth that it generated in me.  I confessed the inordinate amount of time I spent watching TV and gaming on my phone.  I always love the healing and affirmation I feel when I hear, “you are forgiven.” At the same time, before I left the room, I asked Father something like this, “Sometimes I feel too weak to avoid sin.  Instead of falling into a place of despair, I find myself drawn to sitting in awareness of my littleness.  Does that sound wrong?” 

He said he didn’t think so, and that it sounded like something a Carmelite nun had been saying in her books. He encouraged me to read something by Ruth Burrows, the pen name of the Carmelite nun.  I’m only a few pages into a book on her major writings.  Her life so resonates with my own, while being very different.  

She talks about how Jesus met her in her littleness. This resonates with Paul’s writings when he talks about allowing God to be his strength in weakness (2 Cor 12:10), which is one of my favorite Pauline quotes.  She says in this littleness we find the Christ who emptied himself for us.  She talks about how in our brokenness, in our neediness, we more profoundly find him who is the way, the truth, and the life. She says that there is something mystical in accepting our imperfections, and in relying on him.

The more I ponder what I have been experiencing in my own spiritual life as enlightened by what I have read of Ruth’s book, the more I realize how much the Christian life must be rooted in being open to one’s weaknesses. There is a tendency to fall into complacency.  However, the objective is to find the humility to turn to him who desires to be our strength in weakness. The objective is to learn to hear the voice of Truth that dwells within us as a result of our baptism, and to follow him to a place of healing, a place of peace and joy.

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit pondering your own spiritual life.  How are you dealing with the fact that you are still sinner while redeemed in Christ?  Ask him how you can better live not only in your own littleness, but in reliance on his grace.  

In Him,

dw

Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord

This morning, I was drawn to the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist.  John was the one who came before the Lord to prepare his way.  This is the meaning of the season of advent. We take stock of our lives to see how well we are living the Gospel; how well we are preparing for his second coming. 

There are many ways to prepare, but one of the most effective ways is through mental prayer. One form of mental prayer is meditation, which I define here as entering into scripture using our imagination, our memory, and our ability to reason. Another way is to prayerfully read the words of scripture while looking for the Holy Spirit to guide us to words or phrases that open the door to where he wants to work in our lives. This second form of prayer is called Lectio Divina. The idea behind these forms of prayer is to be in dialogue with Scripture, the word of God, and with the Spirit of Truth.

For instance, if you chose to meditate on this scripture, Luke 1:5-25, you could start out just reading the scripture, getting a feel for the scene and the characters.  As you read, see if the Holy Spirit calls your attention to one of the characters or to and object within the scene.  While not required, I highly recommend doing a little research before you begin your prayer.  You might purchase a commentary on this Gospel, and read what the author shares about the text. Such research might reveal how the priests were divided into divisions, and the history behind why the priests were casting lots.  Another method of research is to skim the internet for additional facts or for images to help you picture the scene in your mind. For instance, you might look for a depiction of the altar, and use that image when you imagine yourself walking into this room.  You might do a little research on the angel Gabriel, or the history behind the offering of incense in the temple.   

Now, you close your eyes, choose where you are going to enter in, invite the Holy Spirit into the process, and begin. Sometimes things proceed naturally without prompting. Sometimes I find it helpful to ask the Holy Spirit questions like: who, what, when, where, how, and why.  

With this scripture, you might start by imagining yourself as  Zachariah gathering with the rest of your “division of priests,” casting lots, and exploring the feelings of being chosen to offer the incense. How does this sense of being chosen look in your own life?  From here, you might imagine yourself approaching the altar of incense. All of a sudden, an angel appears to the right of the altar.  You use your imagination to help you feel the same sense of fear that Zechariah feels, and you hear the angel say, “be not afraid.” Maybe a memory of an event that has or is causing you fear comes to mind.  If this or something similar comes up, ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand this image or memory in regards to your own life. 

If you are using Lectio Divina, you would start by reading this passageand looking for words or phrases that resonate within. For instance, you might feel something when you read the word “barren.”  You sit with this phrase for a bit, and ask the Holy Spirit why this word resonates.  Maybe you realize that certain aspects of your life feel barren, so you ask the Holy Spirit if this is a time of preparation, or if there is something more you can do to bring fruit into your life. 

The point I want to highlight is that we are praying with the Holy Spirit so that he can help us make the words personal. Sometimes, prayer enlightens us to deeper meanings of scripture, and sometimes they help us to seek healing within our own personal lives.  We are looking to be open to what the Holy Spirit wants to show us about himself and about ourselves. We are looking for him to show us where we have watered down the Gospel, and for guidance on how to better live as Jesus lived 

Spend some time today (and every day) with the Holy Spirit in mental prayer, asking him to teach you how to pray effectively, and how to be open to his ways of teaching you truth.  Many experts say that the spiritual life can be greatly enhanced by spending a minimum of 20 minutes a day in mental prayer. Ask him to help you make a commitment to grow closer to the God who loves you by giving you the grace to pray with him this way every day.

In Him,

dw 

Call Me Theophilus!

I love studying the Bible. Commentaries have a way of bringing new thoughts and ideas to the surface. They help my imagination better engage scripture in meditation because they tell me more about the culture and the various connotation of the words contained in the Bible. 

I have recently begun my journey into Luke’s Gospel.  This Gospel was written to a man named Theophilus as a way of assuring him in what he had been taught. There are those who believe that Luke wrote his Gospel so as to assure the Gentiles about the faithfulness of God. This theory is based on the fact that Gentiles were converting to a religion that was the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy; however, many Jews were rejecting Jesus as the Messiah. If the Gospel was true, and salvation comes through Jesus, this meant that many Jews were not receiving that which was promised. Could one trust in God like this?  Based on this theory, Luke undertakes this project to prove to the Gentiles that God is faithful. 

Another intriguing theory about the prologue is that Theophilus is a metaphor because the name means “lover of God.” Therefore, anyone who loves God is Theophilus. We read this gospel as a way of allowing ourselves to know God. In knowing God, we come to love him more. The more we know him, the more we believe in him, the more faith that we have. 

The thing is, the more that I study, the more I realize that there are many reasons I call myself Christian, and while love should be the first and foremost reason, it is buried somewhere in the middle. For example, I am a Christian because I want to go to heaven, not hell. I love the idea of a God who cares for me, and delivers me from evil. While these are good drivers, they are also tainted in selfishness.

Despite the fact that my love for God is not currently the primary reason why I call myself Christian, I know that the spiritual life is a journey. I understand that every time I encounter God, who is love, I learn to love him more. Therefore, I say, “call me Theophilus!”  I do love God, and as I continue on the journey, I shall learn to love him more. 

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit asking him to shine the light of truth on your own reasons for being Christian. Where does love fall on the list for you? Can you call yourself Theophilus? Regardless of your answers, spend some time thanking him and praising him for his love of you, and ask him to show you how to love him more. 

In Him,

dw 

Shattering Images – Discipleship Part 2

In the last couple of blogs, we discussed how Mark’s Gospel shatters worldly images of God, and replaces them with the truth.  In Shattering Images – Discipleship Part 1, we looked at the Markan Jesus’ first passion prediction where Jesus told the Apostles that discipleship involves both cross carrying and self renunciation. It focused on the principle of carrying one’s cross, and today, we will focus on the principle of self-renunciation. 

In Part 1, I mentioned that these discipleship principles were not about suffering for the sake of suffering.  In fact, these requirements are cobble stones on the path to God.  Let me see if I can explain. 

The need for self-renunciation, which is the same as the requirement to die to self, is rooted in the story of Adam and Eve: 

 The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Gen 3:6

When one looks at this scripture, one sees how Eve made a decision based on what the body wanted, she saw the good, found it pleasing and desirable. She took the fruit, and ate it.  Desiring the fruit was not evil. What was evil was acting on the desires of the body against God’s mandate.  Eve should have stepped back, reflected on God’s moral code, and exercised the will in favor of obedience.

The thing is, we continue to do the same today. We see worldly goods, we desire them, and we exercise our will in favor of what the body wants.   How often do we make choices because “I don’t want to” or “it feels good”? How often do we exercise the will in favor of things that limit our ability to live a more spirit-filled life? 

The thing is, the body is not bad. It desires good, but when we feed it the lesser good of created things, we deprive it of the greatest good, which is God himself.  The body sees and appreciates the goods God created for the benefit of humans, but in feeding it what it wants, the body becomes a slave to such desires.  

By depriving the body of what it wants, we basically go through withdraw so we are free to see the greater good of God. In fact, when we control what we we feed the body in regards to created goods (using them in moderation and the like), we make room for spiritual goods; heavenly treasures.  

In addition, through practices that help us die to self, we actually free ourselves to participate in the divine life. We see this in 1 John 4:16, which tells us that God is love, agape, self-giving love.  By learning to live selflessly, we begin to live in union with him. However, we have to remember that we can only become Agape by living with him, in him, and through him. It is living a life in humble cooperation with the indwelling Holy Spirit that we become true participants in the life of the divine. What could be better than that? 

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit reflecting on your discipleship practices.  How are you living a life of self-renunciation.  Do you invite the Holy Spirit into your efforts so as to supernaturalize them? Are your practices of self-renunciation about dying to self so you can live in Him?  Can you see the fruit of such practices? Are you becoming agape?  If not, just ask him to show you what you need to do to perfect your existing efforts so that you might live a more full life in participation with the divine. 

In Him,

dw

Shattering Images – Discipleship Pt. 1

Today, I would like to revisit the topic of shattering images, the topic of the last blog. In that blog, we looked at how the Gospel of Mark is written so as to shatter worldly images, and to replace them with Godly images. 

Today, I want to continue our search for worldly images that are in need of shattering by focusing on the concept of discipleship. I want to return to the first passion prediction where Jesus tells the Apostles that discipleship involves both self renunciation and cross carrying. I think that a worldly view of this statement is that God created us to suffer. But nothing could be further from the truth. 

God created us for glory; God created us for love. When he tells us that discipleship involves suffering, he’s talking about suffering through the transformation of becoming glorious, of becoming love. He is telling us that as a result of sin, we have been damaged, and we must suffer through the restoration. He is telling us that by our own sinful acts, and the impact of the sinful acts of others, we must undo the damage done.  

This undoing of the damage done is twofold. There is the part that the human does, and there is the part that God does. It is our obligation to carry our crosses and to renounce ourselves. Today, we will focus on the concept of carrying one’s cross. 

Cross carrying is the process of accepting what God allows to come our way. That through obedient acceptance of things that come our way, we allow God to use these circumstances for our transformation. In this acceptance, we learn to understand that all things work to the glory of God. We learn to understand that his ways are not our ways. We learn trust, and we learn the joy of allowing God to reform us into his image and likeness. 

I want to stress here that sticking with on-going abuse may not be a cross.  In fact, I ponder whether it is ever a cross. If you are accepting the cross of an abusive situation, I strongly encourage you to reach out to a spiritual advisor to prayerfully consider whether this is a cross that God has given, or one that you have allowed because of the Biblical language of accepting crosses.  God can and will use an abusive situation to transform you. The question is whether it is a situation you should continue to endure. 

Spend some time with the Holy Spirit analyzing your own life. Do you continue to ask God why he has allowed things to happen, or do you ask him how to cooperate with him in carrying the cross(es)? Are you trying to control your own circumstances, or are you obediently submitting to what he has allowed to happen. Are you in a situation that causes you to ponder whether it is a cross or not? Spend some time praying and asking the Holy Spirit to help enlighten you to where you can allow him to be Simon for you. Ask him to help you lay down any crosses that are not of him.

In Him,

dw 

Shattering Images

A Reflection On The Gospel of Mark

There is a trend in Biblical studies of using literary analysis tools to study Scripture.  By this I mean using those tools we learned in school, like analyzing how an author structures the story and develops the characters. This form of analysis is having an interesting impact on our understanding of the Gospel.  

For instance, there are those who see Mark as using the first seven chapters of the Gospel to create a human image of the Christ.  Jesus is out doing things like healing the sick, casting out demons, and multiplying food to feed the hungry.  Basically, we find ourselves in the shoes of Samuel, who, when meeting David’s brothers thought each one of the older brothers would be a great king.  Then, he finds out that God’s ways are not always our ways. God has something different in mind.  Let us see how Mark accomplishes this.

As I already mentioned, Mark uses the first part of the Gospel to paint a particular image of the Christ. Then, in chapter 8, we find Jesus and the twelve disciples at Caesarea Philippi. Jesus asks them them, “who do the people say that I am?” They respond that others are saying he is John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the other prophets.  Jesus then asks, “who do you say that I am?”  Peter answers, “you are the Christ.”  How did Peter make the leap from the view of the people to the correct answer?  I would suggest that his answer was founded on his understanding of Old Testament prophecies viewed through the lens of Jesus’ miraculous actions.  

Immediately following this, Jesus makes the first of his passion predictions, which is the first time Jesus takes a verbal baseball bat to the human understanding of messiahship.  In response to this prediction, Peter immediately drags Jesus aside, and tries to put the shattered pieces back together by rejecting Jesus’ prediction.  In effect, Peter tells Jesus, “No! That is not what is going to happen!” Jesus rebukes him, and then says, “Peter, you are thinking like a human, not like God.”  He then turns to the others, picks up his verbal baseball bat and and this time he takes a swing at their image of discipleship by telling them that discipleship means renouncing self, carrying a cross, and otherwise following Jesus’ example of obedience to God’s will. 

Further down the road to Jerusalem, we again find Jesus predicting his death and resurrection.  This time, no one speaks out.  Instead, they resort to grumbling amongst themselves. Likely, no one wants to be rebuked, so they just grumble about Jesus’ process of shattering their ideals about what is to come.   Mark then tells us that mumbling turns into a debate about who among them is the greatest.  Jesus, seeing an opportunity to further shatter their images of what is important in life, picks up his verbal bat and takes another swing by explaining that greatest must be the least.  He attempts to help them understand that life is not about seeking fame and glory, but about servant leadership.  

As we continue down the road to Jerusalem, we hear Jesus predict his death and resurrection for the third and final time. This time, he gives them a more graphic description of what is about to happen when he tells them that he will be spat upon, mocked, scourged, and put to death, but on the third day, he will rise.  In effect, he is telling them that this messiah that they choose to follow will be humiliated; not glorified in Jerusalem.  How do they respond? This time, Mark doesn’t tell us, but what he does tell us shows us that they still do not “get it” because in the very next story, James and John approach Jesus to ask if they might sit at his right and at his left when he enters into his glory.  I give them credit. In response to the second passion prediction, they were seeking glory based on their own self worth, and here, we see that they are beginning to understand glory in relation to Jesus.  However, they are still not thinking as God thinks. Jesus reinterprets glory in light of his passion by asking, “can you drink of the cup from which I am about to drink?”  Without asking him what he means by this, they very eagerly say yes. They basically say that for glory and honor, they will do just about anything.  Jesus assures them that they will drink of his cup, but that it won’t necessarily get them what they currently think they want.  

When we look at this story through this structure of shattering images, we are encouraged to have a greater appreciation of how God’s ways are different than our own.  The disciples would have Jesus march into Jerusalem in glory, and remain in glory with them in various positions of authority.  However, without his death and resurrection, there would be no glory. If they had had their way, they would have been deprived of the very thing that they wanted – salvation. 

We are surrounded by ideals that are not rooted in the Good News, and maybe some of these ideals have taken up residence within us. Spend some time with the Spirit of Truth in prayer.   Ask him to show you where you are living within a human understanding of the world.  Look for images, words, memories, and thoughts to come to the surface. You might see ideas of grandeur. It could be your desire for creature comforts over self-renunciation.  It might be along the lines of asking, “how can a good and loving God allow this to happen?”  Ask him to bring any false beliefs to the surface, to shatter them, and to restructure them in light of the fullness of Truth. 

In Him,

dw