Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Mark 9:5-6
To look on the brilliance of the Lord… it is a terrifying thought and a compelling desire.
It is a call in and to me: I want to know the Lord.
Today I will seek the Lord in holy scripture, in the glory of creation, especially in the faces of the people I meet. I will listen for the voice of the Lord in the words of people in need, in the sounds of nature, in the silence of my heart.
It is my hope that God’s grace is driving greed, self-righteousness, and indifference to the suffering of others out of my mind and heart. I would like to be cleansed of all that prevents me from loving God, my neighbor, and myself.
[Jesus] drove them all out of the temple area… John 2:15b
A.N. Mironov (b.1975) Christ and the pauper. Healing of the blind man. Oil on canvas, 2009.
I know I am blind to many of my faults and weaknesses—and sometimes to my gifts and talents, too.
Today I will trust the man called Jesus and ask him to anoint the eyes of my heart so that I may see myself in the light of God’s love and acceptance. I will trust the man called Jesus to heal all that prevents me from being a true servant of God’s love and goodness in the world.
[The man born blind] replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.” John 9:11
Augustin Hirschvogel (1503-1553) Temptation of Christ
When I am hungry, angry, tired, lonely, afraid, or in pain, I tend to be short on patience, compassion, and forbearance. I am tempted to snap at others, wallow in discouragement, and forget my call to treat all of God’s people with respect.
Jesus shows me how to turn temptation into contemplation of God’s Word, and to let God’s vision of love triumph over a moment’s satisfaction.
[Jesus] fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” Matthew 4:2-3
Düsseldorf, Germany. Catholic church St. Lambertus, main portal with bronze door created by Ewald Mataré. Detail: Return of the prodigal son. Photo by Beckstet, 2010
I may identify with either the prodigal son or his resentful older brother, but in this parable Jesus is calling me to be like the compassionate father.
How ready am I to forgive? To let go of resentment? To welcome the lost? To be a peacemaker? To show compassion to those who are poor, ill, or different from me in culture, ways of thinking, acting, being?
Today I will choose compassion over indifference and acceptance over judgment.
While [the younger son] was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. Luke 15:20b
James Tissot (1836-1902) Le vigneron et le figuier opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, between 1886 and 1894 Brooklyn Museum
Rooting ourselves in prayer, meditation on God’s Word, and conscious awareness of God’s presence in each moment and in all of creation, we allow God, the Master Gardener, to cultivate our hearts and minds to bear the fruits of peace, joy, forgiveness, compassion, justice, acceptance, and love.
[Jesus told them this parable:] “[The gardener] said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’” Luke 13:8-9
William Hole (1846-1917) Temptation of Jesus in the desert Watercolor, ca.1900-1908
The desert of inner exploration is a lonely place. It tends to be dry and tiring, and it seems endless. At times I come upon an oasis where I am refreshed and renewed to continue the journey. At times I am accosted by demons of self-hatred, greed, and despair. At times I am befriended by a ministering angel who reminds me I am not alone in my loneliness, that God is always with me.
Let me give thanks for the opportunity to be in this empty place where only God’s love can fill me. Let me trust that the Holy Spirit has led me here.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. Luke 4:1-2