January 15: I Understand How They Felt
Genesis 26; Matthew 19:1–20:16; Ecclesiastes 6:1–4
“Allow the children, and do not forbid them to come to me, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 19:14).
This is the type of Jesus I want to know. It’s easy for me to think of Jesus as a man I see in film or in Renaissance paintings—to make Him somehow distant in the process—but this Jesus is very compassionate and close. This Jesus takes the lowest members in society, outside of slaves, and promotes them to the ultimate status of equality: members of the kingdom of heaven, being God’s kingdom.
The disciples didn’t understand this yet; instead they rebuke the people bringing their children to Jesus (Matt 19:14). The people bringing their children simply wanted Jesus to lay His healing hands on them and pray for them; the disciples saw a threat to Jesus’ image. The image Jesus wanted to portray was the opposite.
It seems more often than not that I find myself worrying about the concerns of what others think, when I should be concerned about simply doing what these children were doing: scrambling to be close to my Lord, Jesus.
And that’s precisely what the young man in the next passage learns: Jesus wants him to be willing to give up everything and follow Him (Matt 19:16–30). The man knows what he needs to know, but he doesn’t feel about God the way Jesus desires for him to feel. Like the disciples, and like me, he is still in the process of recognizing what it means to follow Jesus.
For this reason, I’m seeking complete surrender to God—knowing that it’s not what gets me into the kingdom, but what makes me live life in a way that honors the kingdom.
In what ways is God asking you to obediently follow?
Barry, J. D. – Kruyswijk, R., Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan (Bellingham, WA 2012).
january 15.—st. paul, the first hermit
ST. PAUL was born in Upper Egypt, about the year 230, and became an orphan at the age of fifteen, being very rich and highly educated. Fearing lest the tortures of a terrible persecution might endanger his perseverance, he retired into a remote village. But his pagan brother-in-law denounced him, and St. Paul, rather than remain where his faith was in danger, entered the barren desert, trusting that God would supply his wants. And his confidence was rewarded; for in the spot to which Providence led him he found the fruit of the palm-tree for food, and its leaves for clothing, and the water of the spring for drink. His first design was to return to the world when the persecution was over, but tasting great delights in prayer and penance, he remained the rest of his life, ninety years, in penance, prayer, and contemplation. God revealed his existence to St. Antony, who sought him for three days. Seeing a thirsty she-wolf run through an opening in the rocks, Antony followed her to look for water, and found Paul. They knew each other at once, and praised God together. When St. Antony visited him, a raven brought him a loaf, and St. Paul said, “See how good God is! For sixty years this bird has brought me half a loaf every day; now thou art come, Christ has doubled the provision for His servants.” Having passed the night in prayer, at dawn of day Paul told Antony he was about to die, and asked to be buried in the cloak given to Antony by St. Athanasius. Antony hastened to fetch it, and on his way back saw Paul rise to heaven in glory. He found his dead body kneeling as if in prayer, and two lions came and dug his grave. Paul died in his one hundred and thirteenth year.
Shea, J. G., Pictorial Lives of the Saints (New York; Cincinnati; Chicago 1887) 48-49.