Self Defense

Sixth Wednesday/Holy Week

One of the hardest things for me to face is my own duplicity, the false self I hide behind in order to feel good about myself. I really don’t want to believe that like Peter, I too am capable of denying I know Christ. Or lying to save my reputation, or making dramatic promises I can’t keep. I’d rather not see that there is darkness within me after all this time of being a disciple. I don’t like to admit that I prefer to trust in myself rather than depend on God. I don’t want to see my spiritual poverty. Yet it’s not only true, it’s the very thing that brings me to God. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:3) The kingdom comes to those who see and admit their need. If we can’t see that all of the righteousness we can muster up on our own is as nothing, we will have great difficulty entering the kingdom. Awareness is the first step.

“After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away because of me this night, for it is written, “I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.” But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’  But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny you.’ All the disciples said the same thing too.” Matthew 26:31-35

What do you think Peter believed about himself? That he was loyal unto death? That he was more faithful than all the others? That he was a true friend and follower of Christ? To be fair, all the other disciples said the same thing, even though Jesus told them they would each desert him. This just says that it’s part of the human condition to want to believe we are always good, capable, strong, smart, self-sufficient, faithful. Jesus sees what’s true about us. He sees our true self – the self we were created to be in him – and he sees the falseness we hide behind. We think of it as protection, but he sees how much it limits us. The Beatitudes show us that this false self is our biggest obstacle to being in loving relationship with God and to becoming more like him.

Today’s prayer practice: Prayer of detachment

Find a quiet space and meditate on the scene above. Imagine yourself in it. What does God have for you in this story? How would you have defended yourself if you’d been Peter? Reflect on how you react when you’re accused or your reputation is questioned or when you feel out of control. Is your tendency to get angry or cover up, to retaliate or withdraw? If your identity is in performance, power or a title, there’s always the risk of losing it or being exposed. But his perfect love is greater than all our fears. Imagine how Jesus felt towards Peter in this moment. Ask him to help you let go of your need to be right, or “good,” or in control.  Receive God’s unchanging love for you, just as you are, with all your contradictions.

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This entry was posted in fear, God, Jesus, letting go, listen, meditate, poverty, prayer and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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