The Road to Virtue – Living Between the Extremes

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Saturday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Today

Saint Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr – Memorial

Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.  Mark 9:5-6

This passage comes in the midst of the glorious event of the Transfiguration.  Peter, James and John went up a high mountain with Jesus, and Jesus was suddenly transfigured before them.  He was radiant white with light shining forth and He was speaking with Moses and Elijah.

These three Apostles witness this miraculous event and they are so overwhelmed and excited that Peter says something that seems a bit silly.  As the Scripture points out, “He hardly knew what to say.”  But, nonetheless, he suggests that they build three tents, one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah.  Of course, Jesus doesn’t respond to this offer, because He knew Peter was so excited that he couldn’t think straight.  Moses and Elijah certainly did not need tents.

One subtle truth of the spiritual life to take from this passage is that, at times, when we have a powerful experience of the presence of God, we can be tempted to go to what we may call a “holy extreme.”  Peter was instantly so excited that he wanted to stay right there on the mountain.  Of course, this was not practical and not rational.  It wasn’t a big deal that he had this reaction, but it is worth noting and learning from.

At times, we can find ourselves feeling very close to God and deeply inspired in one way or another.  When this happens, we may find that the emotional response we have is, in a sense, to go overboard.  Not overboard in our love of God, that’s not possible, but overboard in a zeal that is more based in our emotions than it is in the will of God.  This is the classical example of having a “spiritual high.”  Yes, we must strive to be deeply intimate with our Lord, but we must always make sure that even good emotions do not lead us down the road of our own will rather than the will of God.

Reflect, today, upon any tendency you may have in this regard.  The goal of a virtuous life is true balance between the extremes.  Though we must be 100% committed to God and His will, we must make sure that we are not drawn to one side of the road or the other.  Pray that our Lord will keep you firmly on the path that leads to Him and His holy will.

Lord, I do desire to be totally Yours in every way.  I desire to love You and serve You with my whole mind, heart, soul and strength.  Help me to always follow Your will and Your will alone.  Help me to never be deterred from the path You have set before me.  May I live between the extremes I am drawn to so that I may live a true life of virtue.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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