Meditation: How do we achieve success and victory in our lives? In everyone's life there are key moments or turning points on which the whole of one's life hinges. The mounting confrontation between the Pharisees and Jesus was such a decisive event and crisis. The religious leaders became intolerant of Jesus because of their prejudice. Nothing that Jesus would do or say from this point on would be right in their eyes. They conspired, not simply to oppose Jesus but to eliminate him.
Courage and determination to do God's will
Jesus met this defiance with courage and determination to do his Father's will. He used the crisis to teach his disciples an important lesson for God's way to success and victory. The only way to glory in God's kingdom is through the cross - the cross of suffering and humiliation - which Jesus endured for our sake and for our salvation. We, too, are called to take up our cross every day - to die to sin, selfishness, envy, pride, strife, and hatred - and to lay down our lives in humble service and love for one another, just as Jesus did for our sake.
Matthew quotes from the "Suffering Servant" prophecies of Isaiah to explain how Jesus the Messiah would accomplish his mission - not through crushing power - but through love and sacrificial service (Isaiah 42:1-4). In place of a throne Jesus chose to mount the cross and wear a crown of thorns. He was crucified as our Lord and King (John 19:19; Philippians 2:11) There is no greater proof of God's love for us than the sacrificial death of his only begotten Son for our sake and our salvation (John 3:16).
Jesus died not only for the Jews but for all the Gentile nations as well. Isaiah had prophesied centuries before, that the Messiah would bring justice to the Gentiles. To the Greek mind, justice involved giving to God and to one's fellow citizen that which is their due (whatever is owed to them). Jesus taught his disciples to give God not only his due, but to love him without measure just as he loves us unconditionally - without limits or reservation.
Justice tempered with love and mercy
Jesus brings the justice of God's kingdom tempered with divine love and mercy. He does not bruise the weak or treat them with contempt, but rather shows understanding and compassion. He does not discourage the fainthearted but gives hope, courage, and the strength to persevere through trying circumstances. No trials, failings, and weaknesses can keep us from the mercy and help which Jesus offers to everyone who asks. His grace is sufficient for every moment, every situation, and every challenge we face. When you meet trials and difficulties, do you rely on God's help and grace?
"Lord Jesus, your love and mercy knows no bounds. Give me strength when I am weak, hope when I am discouraged, peace when I am troubled, consolation when I am sad, and understanding when I am perplexed. Make me an instrument of your love and peace to those who are troubled and without hope."
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/