Grace to you!
Yesterday, I reflected on how a Christ-centered virtuous lifestyle entails dealing with trials also. In today’s reflection, drawing from the first confession of Prophet Jeremiah, I share the need for entrusting our cause to the Lord.
One of the ways to press on to the goal which God has set forth for us in Christ is to trust in the Lord. Trusting in the Lord amidst the trials we face isn’t that easy either. We want to take control. We want to handle things our way. It’s easier to do so.
Nevertheless, we realize that we may do all diligence. We may try as much as possible to prevent conflicts and avoid playing into the hand of evil. It stills creeps. Evil is creepy. It creeps to get at the righteous. The First Letter of Saint Peterreminds us that the enemy is prowling around like a roaring Lion looking for someone to devour (1 Pet 5:8). Evil has a knack for searching out the righteous to test them.
You read Jeremiah 11:18-20; it is regarded by some biblical experts as one of the five confessions of Prophet Jeremiah. The other four confessions include Jer 15:10-21; Jer 17:14-18; Jer 18:18-23 and Jer 20:7-18 respectively. Those are different moments during which the prophet vents to the Lord. The last of the confessions was when the prophet questions his particular calling as a prophet. He sees how much he had to undergo and how much rejection he received. He wondered if it was worth the struggle and commitment. You may have been there before.
It is important for us to always remember that a sacrifice that costs us nothing is not worth the name. Saint Jerome tells us that Jeremiah’s sufferings prefigure the suffering of Jesus Christ, the suffering Messiah. They all point to Christ.
In churches today, you will notice starting this evening, the crosses and crucifixes will be covered with the veil. Liturgically, this depicts the heightened moment in Jesus’ life in Jerusalem. A tag has been literally placed on his head. He has become the enemy number one of those in authority. They were all over the place looking for him in order to kill him.
He becomes more and more subtle in his appearances, while waiting for the right hour when he would willingly hand himself over to the wickedness of the broken world, in order to redeem us.
You would definitely hear a tone that sounds like Jeremiah when the Lord would hang on the cross and cry, “My Lord my Lord, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46). It is a powerful lamentation prayer from Psalm 22. It is also a cry to remind us that the pain is real. Our own pain is real too. Sometimes, we may have the same cry. There is nothing wrong in crying out to the Lord in your moments of pain. God hears.
Yet, we also remember the most important plea which comes right after the cry. St. Luke included this in his version of the Gospel. The Lord cried: “Father into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46). Jeremiah in his case would say, “…to you Lord I have entrusted my cause” (Jer 11:20).
In the final analysis, may we entrust our cares and concerns to the Lord. We commend our lives to God. In this is peace.
Praying for the grace of resignation to God’s will. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Saturday, Lent, Week 5: Jer 11:18-20; Jn 7:40-53]
Grace to you!
In today’s reflection, drawing from the Gospel of Luke 4:1-13, I share some thoughts on how to identify subtle and evil temptations, and overcome them.
Suppose you were traveling out of town for a crucial meeting. You’ve never been to the place before and do not know the route. Good a thing you have a GPS.
Suppose you entered the address and mistakenly keyed in the wrong zip code. You arrive at the address but found you were in a different city than the one you intended. You drove all the way, two hours in the wrong direction. It will take you double the time to reconnect to the right location. You will be late to the appointment or miss it completely. You become nervous. The reality of this misdirection is what temptation is like.
Temptation is anything that could derail us from our life’s mission and goals. It is anything that could lure us away from God’s plan in our life. It is the bait for sin. It can be actions or inactions, thoughts, words, situations, events, etc., drawing us away from our goals, possibly preventing us from reaching the finish line.
Let me use the story of the temptation of the Lord Jesus as recorded in Luke 4:1-13 as a case study for our application. Jesus’ mission was to do the will of his Father. His forty days and forty nights of fasting and praying in the wilderness before he started his public ministry was a testimony of his firm commitment to journey with the Father. Then came temptation.
I would recommend you read the story in Luke 4:1-13. You will find that at the root of the temptations was the subtle plan to misdirect the Lord from his absolute reverence or obedience to the Father. The temptations were testing where Jesus’ ultimate loyalty rested—in food for his hunger, acquisition of worldly power and possessions, in fame for himself or in his Godly mission? In other words, Jesus’ identity as the Son of God and the mission tied to it, were the objects of these temptations.
In those temptations, the Lord was carrying upon himself and exemplifying how we should deal with evil temptations. He was leaving us an example to follow when we are tempted. Notice that the main goal of all the temptations was to derail the Lord from his identity as the Son of God and his primary mission. It is ridiculous to imagine that the devil will attempt to do this, yet it does it all the time.
Every temptation is similar to the above scenario. Temptations are subtle, seemingly benign and suggestive of being in our best interest. They seem to be in line with our identity and mission in life. Some temptations look good at the face value. We can identify them by evaluating how consistent they are with our God given mission in life. We better be careful of anything that distracts from our ultimate goal in life. It doesn’t matter how good it may appear to be. Not all that glitters is gold. Sometimes, the glitterier, the more is the deception. Carefulness plus discernment is required.
Is there something that distracts you from your mission and goals in life? Anything that takes you farther away from God? A U-turn decision today is crucial. Such is the path to virtuous life.
Pray with me: Lord, deliver us from all temptations and evil. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[First Sunday of Lent, Feb. 14, 2016; Dt 26:4-10; Rom 10:8-13; Lk 4:1-13]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections for the season of Lent your individual spiritual edification. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations. .