The Seventy-two Disciples tempera on parchment Ethiopia, ca.1480-1520 Getty Open Content Program Ms. 105 (2010.17), fol. 9
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit,
brothers and sisters. Amen. Galatians 6:18
The grace of our Lord touches our hearts and spirits with the desire to do good, forgive wrongs, bring healing to those who are suffering, be peacemakers, let go of blame, and take responsibility for our actions and attitudes.
We are good and trustworthy. That is why the Lord sends us into the world to sow and harvest love, compassion, and nonviolence.
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 two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread. Luke 24:35
Jesus has risen from the dead. He breaks bread and eats a bit of fish to prove he is here with us, a tangible, touchable, living presence.
It is in this present, earth-bound moment that he offers us the gift of peace. Today I will accept this moment of peace… and the next…and the next… until I internalize the gift and am able to offer it to others—to all members of our human family, who live and breathe and ache to be touched with God’s peace and compassion.
[Jesus] stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Luke 24:36
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
My first response is not always generosity to the poor. It is not always welcome to someone I don’t know. Or forgiveness to someone who has hurt me. Or respect to someone who treats me with disdain.
But I always have the option to change my attitude and behavior. I can choose the way of love and kindness instead of the way of self-centeredness and resentment.
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not, ‘ but afterwards changed his mind and went. Matthew 21:28-29
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