‘Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me. Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!’
(John 12:25-28 NIVUK)
A Powerful Positive “No”
It’s Monday of Holy Week and as we try to connect with the events of Jesus’ last days, his resounding “No” calls us to a deeper mystery. He’s more troubled than I’ve ever been, facing darkness greater than I’ve seen. He is about to defeat the enemy of us all and the author of all the reasons we express desperate prayers.
One of our most frequent prayers is “God get me out of this mess, struggle or difficulty.” The one thief beside Jesus yelled it at him directly. As he faced the cross, Jesus said a resounding NO to that prayer.
His “No” became the great “Yes” for us all. “Yes” we are redeemed, we are freed to eternal life, to a life of service and perfect freedom. Jesus calls us to say “no” to self-interest “yes” to his work of reconciling the world to God.
Augustine’s prayer expresses it is beautifully. We long for the perfect freedom from selfishness and weakness that leads to light and service of all that is good.
A Prayer for Today
Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being, you have made us for yourself, so that our hearts are restless until they rest in you; grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose, that no selfish passion may hinder us from knowing your will, no weakness from doing it; but that in your light we may see light clearly, and in your service find our perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Augustine: 354-430)