Jesus has been preparing his disciples for what is to come. He has met the challenges brought by the established leaders of the community, and he has continued to respond with love and compassion to the needs of the people. But his eyes are set on Jerusalem, the location of the ultimate challenge embedded in his call. He understands the absolute nature of his messianic identity, and he is ready to make the supreme sacrifice.
Knowing what is to come, Jesus wants to prepare his disciples. He tries to ensure that those he has called, those who have walked with him during the years of his earthly ministry, are also ready for the final act. But they fear facing the stark reality of his call and mission as Messiah. Peter, the self-selected spokesperson, rails against a message that he considers inappropriate for the Messiah.
Fear greatly deters the work of ministry. The call of Christ, to love as Christ loves, offers a great challenge, and we are sometimes afraid to step out into the unknown. Like Moses, we offer many excuses, or like Peter, we refuse to listen to the word that Christ speaks into our hearts. We often make excuses or protest our ability to do the work of God, to live fully a life of Christian love. Most often it is because of fear. We forget that those whom Christ calls he empowers.
God prepares us for a holy life, and God’s presence supports us as we step out and live fully as Christians. We can face the challenge of Christian discipleship through the presence and grace of God.
Christ, you are our Savior and guide. Help us to follow your lead in the assurance that we have been empowered by your grace. Amen.
In Exodus 3, Moses is moved to inspect the bush because it is an oddity, and in so doing he encounters the presence of the living God. Not even Moses could be prepared for the challenge that ensues. Psalm 105 recites God’s great acts of mercy in Israel’s life; in this instance, focusing on Moses and Aaron. The key verb here is “sent,” and its subject is God. In Romans 12, Paul takes the notion of covenant demand and expounds on it. Christians are called not simply to keep rules; they are transformed and readied for new life in the world. Paul provides an inventory of new life for those who are changed and renewed by the gospel. The Gospel reading is one of Jesus’ most acute reflections on the obedience expected of the faithful. He announces his own destiny of suffering obedience and invites his disciples to share in that radical destiny. For the faithful, there is no “business as usual”; it’s a divine call that brings challenge.
• Read Exodus 3:1-15. Have you experienced God’s call to something you felt ill-equipped for? What did you say to God? to yourself?
• Read Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c. How difficult is it for you to praise God in the midst of turmoil? Why?
• Read Romans 12:9-21. Where in your life do you have opportunities to bless those who curse you?
• Read Matthew 16:21-28. What does your call to discipleship in Christ cost you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.