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.
We have the power to give birth to love in every moment with our words, actions, attitudes, and behavior. This is God’s will for us. This is God’s vision for our world. This is God’s most precious gift: Love incarnate.
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38