Isaiah 41:13-20; Psalm 145:1, 9-13;Matthew 11:11-15
“The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force.” (Matthew 11:12)
Because we are all created in God’s image, the personality he has given each of us manifests his character in a unique, irreplaceable way. A fearless leader like Moses reveals how God goes before his people to lead them to freedom. A wise pastor like St. Francis de Sales shows how well our heavenly Father understands our weaknesses. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta demonstrates God’s compassion for the least of his children, and Dorothy Day shows us God’s passion for justice and peace.
Even a “violent” prophet like John the Baptist has something to teach us about God. Perhaps it would have been better for John had he not been so outspoken and uncompromising. Having once confronted Herod on his sinful relationship with Herodias, John might have saved his skin by softening his message a bit. But that’s not who John was. He called it as he saw it, and he didn’t let anything stand in his way, not even the threat of death. Toughened by a life of austerity, he was single-minded in his determination to prepare all Israel—even Herod—for the coming kingdom of God.
Do you see Jesus only as a gentle soul who embraces everyone, regardless of their beliefs and lifestyle? Of course there is truth in this image. God’s love is unconditional. He treasures every person he created and longs for everyone to be with him forever. But at the same time, Jesus cannot abide the sin that distorts his image in us and separates us from him. He will go to any lengths to deal with that sin, including becoming a man, living among us, and suffering death for our sake. As his awestruck friends once observed, Jesus was consumed with zeal for the purity of God’s kingdom and his people (John 2:17).
Today is a good day to ask God to shed his light on the greatest obstacle you are raising to the victory of his love in you. Once you see what that obstacle is, let nothing stop you from bringing it down! Let the violence of Jesus’ passionate love for you give you the strength, determination, and faith you need to see victory.
“Jesus, you held nothing back in loving me. By your Spirit, help me overcome everything that separates me from you.” ~WAU