Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wednesday in the First Week of Ordinary Time (I)
From Clinging to Letting Go

Readings: Hebrews 2:14-18; Psalm 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9; Mark 1:29-39

Because he himself has been through temptation he is able to help others who are tempted…

We continue to meditate upon how the God who comes to us at Christmas brings us out of darkness into the light of new and eternal life. Just as yesterday we saw Jesus counteracting the tendency to escape the messiness of daily living by fully embracing all the implications of human existence, so today we find him dealing with yet another temptation.

Early in his public ministry, Jesus enjoys much success and popularity. In the words of his disciples: Everyone is looking for you. Is it not likely then that he who embraced the life of a human being might also have experienced the temptation to cling to his newfound success? Could he not have struggled with the tendency to remain where he was in Capernaum and to build up his own reputation and career as a preacher and miraculous healer?

And yet, we see Jesus counteracting this temptation by going off to a lonely place to pray. And in his prayer he finds strength to do that for which he came. His prayer helps him to recall his true purpose and identity. And with this as his focus, Jesus is enabled to let go of all other attachments, even attachments to very good things – such as the wonderful work he has been doing and the friends that he has made in Capernaum. He moves on to preach all through Galilee.

Of course, this kind of letting go is not easy. In a very real way, it involves a dying to oneself and all one’s ambitions and needs for success and affirmation. But it is also a dying that leads to life. And in submitting to it, Jesus is doing what is written in the first reading today: he sets free all of us who are held in slavery by the fear of death.

As we continue to look at Jesus, as we continue to allow him to show us the way to the Father, how are we being called to let go all that we are clinging to so as to enter more fully into the Father’s embrace?

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