Monday – Tested by Fire
God allows our faith to be tested by fire. The fire of suffering and trials and even doubts does more to purify our faith than anything else, for it teaches us to rely wholly on God rather than on our own strength and understanding. Like gold, our faith can be impure and mixed. As gold is set in fire to burn off the impurities, our faith is set in fire that it may be free from admixture and free to be on fire with love for God.
Lord, I thank You for testing and refining my faith. Make it shine like the purest gold that I may be totally Yours. Amen.
Tuesday – A Strange Reversal
In today's Gospel, Jesus speaks of a strange reversal: “But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
God's ways are not our ways. People who seem to be doing very well in this world, those who are successful and rich and famous, will one day find themselves at the back of the pack. They will see that what they value now has no eternal significance. Their money and reputation will fade away into nothing.
But some of those upon whom the world looks with contempt will find themselves right up at the top. People who have given up everything to follow Christ, people who speak out for truth and goodness no matter what the cost, people who are misunderstood and even ridiculed for their faith, these will be the leaders in eternal life. These are the ones who have their priorities set right. These are the ones who put God first. God in turn will put them first.
Wednesday – A Request
James and John had a request for Jesus: “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” Perhaps Jesus was a bit amused as He responded to this direct demand. “What do you wish Me to do for you?” He replied.
James and John didn't hesitate: “Grant that in Your glory we may sit one at Your right and the other at Your left.”
Did Jesus sigh and shake His head when He told them that they didn't really know what they were asking? Could they suffer as He was about to suffer? Could they drink of the chalice of pain? Could they handle the baptism of blood?
James and John didn't really understand what Jesus was talking about, so they answered with a confident, “We can.”
Jesus assured them that they would indeed share in His sufferings, but He also told them that the seats on His right and left were not up for grabs. They would be given to the ones for who they had been prepared. He didn't reveal any further details.
The other disciples were quite miffed with James and John for presuming to ask such a question. They probably mumbled things like, “Who do they think they are?” and “They're no better than the rest of us.”
Jesus knew a teaching moment when He saw one, and He gave the disciples a lesson in humility, reminding them that true leaders were servants, just as He Himself was a servant Who had come to give His very life “as a ransom for many.” James and John's unthinking request had turned into an opportunity for revelation.