Let us be the family of the Lord. Let us love one another. Let us pray for our enemies. Let us help the poor and the homeless, the refugees and immigrants. Let us comfort the lonely and grief-stricken. Let us welcome the rejected and abandoned. Let us show compassion to the suffering. Let us forgive those who have hurt us.
[… Jesus said,] “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:34b-35
The language of God’s Holy Spirit is love. Whomever I speak with, wherever they’re from, no matter how different they seem from me: we all understand the spoken and unspoken language of love, compassion, and acceptance.
May the language I choose always express God’s Spirit of love and compassion.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Acts 2:4-6
God’s love has been planted in my heart. May I take time today to sit with Love in the quiet of my heart space. May I let Love prune and shape my life and will. May my own capacity to love grow, flourish, and bear great fruit.
God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. 1 John 4:16b
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
This is my temptation: to let the violence, tragedies, and selfishness in the world frighten me so that I forget my birthright as a beloved child of God and become distracted from participating in God’s work of reconciliation, forgiveness, and compassion. I am tempted to believe my small efforts to pray, be kind, and comfort the suffering are not a part of the solution to the world’s problems.
Along with the wild beasts and demons in my desert today, there are also angels to care for me. I need not make an idol of fear. I am reassured that I have a part to play in making God’s vision of love and unity a reality.
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. Mark 1:12
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) Jesus heals a leper Pen and ink drawing, c. 1650-1655 Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet
So much conspires to tell me I am an outcast in this society: unemployment, chronic headaches, overwhelming fatigue, and the ever-accelerating pace and stress of modern life when what I crave is time—time to go slowly, to rest, listen, and discern God’s will for me.
When I become aware that I am feeling ashamed of who I am, I pray to be reunited with the unconditional love and compassion that is my birthright. The Lord is always willing to touch me and make me whole again.
A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.”
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2:9b
Those who have made the trek, followed the star, and encountered the Christ teach me that the power and light of love can never be fully obscured. May their example renew my faith when it is clouded by pain, depression, or grief, and rekindle my hope when it is diminished by disappointment, disillusionment, or discouragement.