Tuesday, November 18
Mark 10 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book The Cost of Discipleship, writes, “If there is not an element of asceticism in our lives, if we give free rein to the desires of the flesh…we shall find it hard to train ourselves for the service of Christ.” He had learned, through the contours of his life, that we an authentic spiritual life necessarily contains an element of a non-indulgent life. There must be times when we say “no,” to something in order to be able to say “yes” to God and neighbor. Asceticism sets the stage for a life of service, partly because practicing restraint makes room in our life for us to look at others and attend to their needs. As the psychiatrist, Karl Menninger, answered when asked, “What should someone do who feels on the verge of a nervous breakdown?” “Lock your house, go across the railroad tracks, find someone in need and do something for him.”
Questions of reflection
When have you taken on some spiritual practice of discipline that involved giving something up, saying “no” to something? Did you gain any particular insight into God, into yourself, from that practice?