Prayer and Choice

Today, Jesus enters into Jerusalem a Hero, at least to those who are following Him. Of course not everyone is happy to see Him: the Sanhedrin is not happy; the Romans are nervous; of the citizens of Jerusalem, many of them are not pleased.  But His followers, those who profess Him as their Messiah are exuberant.  These followers choose to be with Him. They see in Him a winner, one who gives them the hopes they are desiring. But, in a few short days that exuberation will dissolve; they will flee from being followers; they will walk away from their choice and melt back into the people of Judah.

Brothers and sisters, we too have professed Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior; we have chosen to be followers and we are exuberant.  We have, with special intensity, walked with Christ during this Lenten season and hopefully we have reached Holy Week stronger disciples.  Unlike almost 2,000 years ago where His followers fled on Holy Thursday I am confident that our intensity in our devotion to Christ will grow throughout the Triduum.  Our test will come after Easter. Will the fruits of our Lenten exercise remain with us once Easter is celebrated? Will our desire for a renewed closeness with Christ continue? Will we continue to choose Christ as our example and model for living our lives?

These are very important questions to ask ourselves. They are not questions brought about by fear of failure in as much as they are questions of love. God, who is Love, has given us freewill to choose Him or not; and Satan knows this all too well.  As members of God’s family, out of our love for them, we need to concern ourselves with our ability to live up to our familial responsibilities and to defend ourselves from the attacks of our powerful enemy. We should ask ourselves every day, if not more frequently, about our choice.  To not do so is putting ourselves in danger of drifting away from Jesus Christ; in effect turning our backs from our loving family.

This is made all the more imperative because the demands that society seemingly forces upon us makes living within our family very difficult. At times we can spend the extra effort and time to push society and Satan away, and Lent is a very good season to do this, but to do so continually is a very hard undertaking. How can we hope to live in the family of God when these pressures from Satan and society implant within us doubts about our capabilities?

A few years ago I spent five days at a Cistercian Monastery near Dubuque Iowa. At one point I was talking with the retreat house master about their life in the order.  During the conversation he said that He and His brothers choose with their feet every day; they could just up and leave whenever they felt like it. But he said – the intimacy of prayer was a great strength, beyond imagination.

As we transition from our Lenten journey and enter the great events of the Sacred Triduum and onward I urge us all to dive deeply into our prayer life and allow God to open our hearts to His wisdom and most importantly His Love. Let’s follow the words of that wise Cistercian brother and take advantage of prayer – this great strength that is beyond imagination.  It is the surest way to keep our choice of Christ ever first in our hearts like we are in His.

 

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