James Tissot (1836-1902) Jésus tenté dans le désert gouache over graphite on gray wove paper, between 1886 and 1894 Brooklyn Museum
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve.” Matthew 4:8-10
Here is a glimpse into the nonviolent nature of Jesus. He listens to the devil’s words without judgment, but, with calm authority, refuses to participate in the devil’s campaign for power.
Jesus’ command of the scriptures and knowledge of the nature of God form his responses and become teaching moments — in which, without aggression, he offers the devil the possibility of conversion.
Lord, teach me your Way of nonviolence that I may serve God in love and justice.
Persian Jesus (Isa) miniature of Sermon on the Mount
If you choose you can keep the commandments,
they will save you;
if you trust in God, you too shall live;
he has set before you fire and water
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him.
Today I will choose the qualities of God: patience, kindness, civility, respect, compassion, delight, and love.
I will choose self-responsibility and forgiveness.
Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matthew 5:13
No matter our situation, we can add flavor to life by sharing kindness with those who are hungry for attention. We can offer the shelter of our compassion to those who are suffering. We can wrap the lonely in the caring warmth of our companionship.
Today I will seek quiet moments to pray and meditate so that I may not lose my taste for loving and serving my neighbor.
Rembrandt (1606-1669) Hannah and Simeon in the Temple oil on panel, 1627-1628 Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. Luke 2:36-37
Good things happen even when we are old. We still welcome delightful surprises and the kind attention of others. We have the time to reflect on all we have experienced and to trace out the patterns in our lives. We know how to comfort the young, thanks to our history of overcoming challenges, disappointments, and hurts. We have the wisdom to recognize the good and the godly in others — and in ourselves.
Léonard Gaultier, 1561-1641 Follow Me and I will Make You Fishers of Men engraving, probably c. 1576/1580 Washington, National Gallery of Art
Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.
The light of hope is always with me in the person of Jesus, who calls me by name and asks me to follow his way of forgiveness, compassion, and peace.
Lord, you are healing for those who suffer from despair, grief, and injustice. Help me to bring your light of love with me today that I may be a comforting presence to those in need.
attributed to Payag (Indian) The Magi Follow the Star, from a Mirror of Holiness (Mir’at al-quds) of Father Jerome Xavier, SJ (1549–1617) Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper, between 1602 and 1604 Cleveland Museum of Art
And behold, the star that [the magi] had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2:9b
Would I have seen the star that would lead me to find Jesus? Or would I have been like King Herod, unable to see and follow, afraid and troubled?
Today I will look for and pay homage to the light of God’s self-revelation in nature, in the people I encounter, in prayer and meditation. I will not be afraid to welcome God’s presence.