We Should Not Try To Manipulate Jesus

We Should Not Try To Manipulate Jesus March 24, 2024

Raymond Bucko, SJ from Omaha, NE: Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Monastery Jordanville New York Icon Of Jesus’ Entry Into Jerusalem / Wikimedia Commons

While it might often be difficult, because of the trials and tribulations of life, including those given to us by our fellow Christians, we should always strive to find the good things we have in our life and use them to help us experience the joy God wants for us. Human nature, in and of itself, is good, and even if we individually have cut ourselves off from that goodness due to our sins, we can find ourselves restored back to our original, integral goodness thanks to Christ. But, our hope and joy does come from this alone, but also from the way Jesus draws us into himself so we can become something more, something greater, than what we were given to us by our nature, that is, so we can be drawn into the divine life and through our participation in it be deified ourselves. We must let all the old things, all the things of the past, not get in our way of our future. Certainly, that can be difficult, because who we are, and what we have become, in part, comes from what we have done and experienced in the past; but, what is important for us to realize is that we do not have to let our past define us and limit our future potential. God, through the incarnation, and the sending of the Holy Spirit into the world, provides us the grace we need to transcend it all. Whatever we have done does not have to define us and hold us back, but only if we are willing to look ahead and put our focus on Christ and the way he is willing to direct us. Thus, we should focus on the greater good, the good which lies ahead, and the graces which we have been given which will help us attain to that greater good. If we do so, then with Paul, we should be able to contemplate all that good and find a reason to do as he said, that is, rejoice:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.  Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philip. 4:4-7 RSV).

We are to rejoice in the Lord. We should praise and thank God for all that God has and continues to do for us, but also, we should then celebrate the presence of God as it is manifest in our life, allowing us to accept all the joy which can and should come from it. Indeed, the two should go together. We praise and thank God as we praise anyone who we have come to know and love for all the great things they have done, not because they demand it, but because we are thankful for what we experience of it in and through our relationship with them.

We are to pray in and with Christ. Hopefully, we will be able to attain some peace in and through our act of prayer because when we pray, we open ourselves up to the presence of God, through whom and with whom and in whom exists every good.

Certainly, we presently find ourselves connected to temporal existence, which means, we will be affected by what happens in the passing of time; alongside peace and joy, we will experience the way sin harms the world. The peace we presently experience in our prayer is only a foretaste of the peace and glory to come at the Parousia, the second coming of Christ. We should look forward to the great day of the Lord knowing that however earth-shattering it will be, Christ will come in glory to share his glory with everyone (though, in such a way that people will have their own response to it, and how that response will work out will be revealed in the last judgment).

We are to rejoice but we are to do so, minding ourselves, knowing who and what we were, even as we should look to who and what we can become in Christ. We must embrace what is good, but we must do so in proper fashion. We must not try to inappropriately seek after some particular, lesser good, cut off from the greater good, treating it as the final good which we should seek after and desire, for that only harms the good, allowing it to become corrupted and, in and through that corruption, harmful to us or to others. Rather, we should let our connection to any particular good draw us in to the greater good, so that, as we are drawn into it, we become holier and holier, reflecting more and more of the holiness of God. That is, we should not try to manipulate people or things in and through our connection to some lesser good, using that lesser good to distract from or undermine the greater good. We should let the good transform us instead of having us transform and shape the world by our inordinate engagement of the good. This is why those who say “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” for selfish reasons will reveal, in the end, their praise is an attempt to manipulate and control the Lord, and they will experience the consequences of such manipulation, consequences which they will not like. On the other hand, those who say “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” with an honest heart, praising God out of love, will find themselves drawn into and experience the kingdom of God for themselves.

When Jesus entered into Jerusalem, there were those who praised him, hoping to manipulate him and use him for their own ends, while there were others who praised him out of love and the desire to follow after him to where he should lead them. Judas, more than anyone else, represented the former, while Mary his Mother and John, more than anyone else, could be seen representing the latter. Many, if not most, of his disciples were somewhat mixed in relation to how they engaged Jesus, for it is clear, they believed him and were willing to follow him, they also hoped their close association with him could be used for their own benefit, that is, to be given places of great honor and power in the kingdom of God. For this reason, they were given graces, but also, needed to experience the purifying flame of love for themselves, an experience many of them had during the time between Jesus’ passion and his resurrection, and then they were able to become what God wanted of them.

Let us hope we do not try to manipulate Jesus, trying to have Jesus do as we wish, making the world conform to our will, but rather, let us be like the Theotokos and John, looking to Jesus, letting love more than anything  else establish the we interact with and praise him.


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