2nd Week of Advent
Scripture Reading: Matthew 11:11-15
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus speaks of violence, but what exactly does He mean by His words? The “violence” of which Christ speaks must be done exclusively to ourselves. In order to enter Heaven, we must mortify (put to death) our fleshly tendencies in order to live out the will of the Spirit. We must renounce our evil ways, take up our cross, deny ourselves, and die to our wills if we want to be received into Heaven.
A “violent” disciple of Christ will die to his pride and practice humility. A “violent” disciple will strive to be ignored in order that others may be recognized. A “violent” disciple will do all of the work and insist that others receive the credit instead. When cursed, the “violent” disciple will bless.
Heaven is not for the dainty and thin-skinned. It is not for the soft and the timid. It is for those who are strong in dying to themselves and living for God.
When we attempt to reduce or control our bodily desires and needs through self-denial, when we give ourselves over to acts of penance, and when we resist our perverse inclinations, we are giving ourselves over to the violence of which Christ speaks. We are doing the will of Heaven in this regard. Our sinful nature lost for us a place in Heaven, but when we die to that nature, this “violence” gives back to us that place in Heaven.
Do “violence” to yourself! Put to death that gossiping tongue, that unforgiving spirit, that desire to always be first, and that hunger for honors and recognition. Let God nail to the cross that competitive spirit, that greed, that critical tongue, and that jealousy of someone else’s success! “Kill it or perish with it,” says the Lord!
We all have areas in our lives which we are having a difficult time “putting to death.” In your journal, write down a list of those areas, and why you are having such a difficult time nailing them to the cross. What are you afraid will happen if you give those things up? How do you believe your relationship with Christ is being affected (as well as your joy and peace) because you refuse to “do violence” to them?
In order for journaling to be effective in our lives, we have to be brutally honest with both ourselves and with God. So, be honest, be real, and don’t be afraid to face what you may not have been willing to face concerning those areas of your life in which Christ is calling you to die.