“Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?” External conflict often reflects our internal struggles. Sometimes when we are upset or angry at someone, it has nothing to do with what the person did or said. Rather, the person’s actions or attitudes have triggered unresolved emotional conflict within us related to pride, hate, ambition, jealousy, and revenge. When our arguments stem from these emotions, we fight only for personal preference or self-promotion.
Today’s scripture invites us to look within rather than turning our emotions outward or blaming others when we find ourselves fighting. We question ourselves: What I am fighting about? Is the fight for my desire to have my own way? to gain admiration? to get even? Is it just to fulfill my pride? What personal preference am I trying to protect or seek?
If we pay closer attention to ourselves than to external forces, we will discover that the root of our tensions exists within us. The battle of personal desires is the “war within” that James talks about. Our struggles can separate us from one another or hinder our full relationship with God and with our neighbor. James invites us to discover and accept a simple truth: The fight resides within us. Only an inward focus will move us toward resolution.

Gracious and loving God, help us humble ourselves and face the tensions of our internal desires rather than fighting with our brothers and sisters. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 9:30-37

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Lectionary Week
September 17–23, 2018
Scripture Overview

Proverbs describes the noble wife and sets a standard that can seem impossible. This woman is capable and respected but also generous and wise. She serves but is not weak. Is she a “superwoman,” and do all women need to be “superwomen”? No, she is noble because she follows the counsel of the psalmist and is deeply rooted in the teachings of God. Therefore, she sets a standard for everyone to emulate, not just women. James, another teacher of wisdom, encourages believers to show these same characteristics by following the wisdom given by God. In Mark the disciples display a lack of wisdom by arguing over who is the greatest. Jesus reminds them that greatness in God’s eyes comes through service, not through seeking recognition.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Proverbs 31:10-31. How have societal expectations shaped your life? How do you allow them to shape the ways you interact with others?
• Read Psalm 1. When have you had to choose between wickedness and righteousness? What influenced your choice?
• Read James 3:13–4:3, 7-8a. You can choose the way you react to conflict. How can facing your internal struggles help you deal with external conflict?
• Read Mark 9:30-37. With what are you too preoccupied? How do your personal worries constrain your perspective?

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.