A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Reflections on Marist Spirituality (5)

Fr Denis Mahony

Fr Denis Mahony

These reflections were first published in 1212 in Tutu - Another Way, written by Adele M.E.Jones with Michael McVerry sm. They are reprinted with permission

The Three No’s

Making decisions is at the heart of being human. Decisions regarding the truth confront us constantly in daily life. Each of the choices we make, whether great or small, are sacred moments,challenging us to love more deeply. When we make these choices, in faith and love, we are stretched and grow more and more into our true identity as the sons and daughters of God the Father,brothers and sisters of Jesus. We create ourselves by the choices we make.God did not spare Mary the struggle of accepting to enter into the mystery of God’s plan for her.

Like us, Mary had choices to make which often were painful and risky. The choice placed before Mary at the Annunciation was not an easy one and she was “deeply disturbed”, but Mary was open to God and abandoned herself to the will of the Father. Mary’s “amen”, her “yes” to God, repeated all through her life, took her finally to Calvary. Like mother, like son. During his growing years Mary would have been teaching Jesus the way to make good decisions, good choices.

A time came in Jesus’ life when he made a major, life-changing decision - to leave the family business, to leave home at Nazareth and go to the Jordan to join his cousin, John the Baptist.

After some time teaching and baptising with John the Baptist, Jesus made the decision to go away to a quiet place for a long period of prayer and discernment. During this time he was tempted to go against what was going to be at the heart of his teaching about the Kingdom of God which he now discerned he was to establish. He was tempted to give in to pride, prestige and power. We must not think that Jesus was play acting. He was fully human like you and me and his temptations were real.

He was tempted to follow the way of the world, not the way of the Kingdom of God he was sent to establish. He had come to live his life for God, to do the will of the Father, and not to be living for himself. He was tempted to what we call the false self and not to be true to himself. Later on he would say to his followers, “If you wish to be my disciples you must learn to leave self (that is, the false self) behind”. Jesus chose not to follow these temptations. He left the desert strengthened to begin his great work the Father was giving him to do.

Jesus in the Wilderness  by Stanley Spencer

Jesus in the Wilderness
by Stanley Spencer

Jesus continued to be tempted all through his public life - he had to make the right choices. He met a lot of opposition because of his vision of God’s Kingdom. The author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us that “Jesus was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin” (Hebrews 4: 15). Jesus was tempted, Mary was tempted, we are tempted. Temptations are part of our humanity and their purpose is to provide us with the opportunity to choose to do what is right and good and to become better, stronger persons - to say “no” to self and “yes” to God. We choose to love. Father Colin wrote much and spoke often of what could spoil the work of Mary but there were three temptations in particular that he warned Marists to be aware of and to overcome: the temptations to greed, pride and to power. We call them the three Marist “no’s”: no greed, no pride and no power.They are very similar to the temptations that Jesus had to face at the beginning of his ministry.

Father Colin’s experiences in life taught him that the desire for money, power and personal ambition can easily enter our lives and stunt our growth from becoming fully alive human beings. Greed, pride and power were totally against the spirit of Mary at Bethlehem and Nazareth, and of the apostles in the early Church. Mary and the apostles relied on divine providence.

Father Colin warned his Marists that greed, power and pride limit the effectiveness of those who wish to present the Gospel of Jesus. Rather, Marists are invited to follow in Mary’s footsteps keeping their eyes fixed on God alone and on the Kingdom, resisting the crippling forces of greed, power and pride so as to develop an inner freedom, and in the manner of Mary, build a Christian community  which has Mary’s face.

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