“They were overwhelmed with grief.”

As we continue to walk with Jesus and the disciples (Mt 17:22-27), Jesus again predicts His passion and death, eliciting the emotions described above.  Upon entering Capernaum, the temple tax collectors approach Peter to ask if Jesus pays the temple tax, to which Peter responds in the affirmative.  Upon returning to Jesus, Peter is asked by Him from whom polls and census taxes are taken.  The conclusion: foreigners.  Even so, Jesus instructs Peter to go fishing and open the mouth of the first creature He catches — in it will be tax payment enough for both of them.  There are two aspects of the disciples’ grief worth considering: their grief for Jesus and their grief for themselves; these we can also apply to ourselves.  How sad it is to lose loved ones to death, and how much more so if we have to see them suffer before the end.  The disciples were now being prepared for Jesus’ demise.  As they come to understand it better they also realize that the person to whom they have given their lives will soon no longer be with them.  As close collaborators with Jesus, the disciples surely felt that the consequences for them, because of their association with Jesus, may well be dire indeed; grief follows upon grief.  We, having the fullness of revelation, realize Christ died for everyone and for us individually.  Should we not grieve for the death of this perfect Man who was God who only showed love and loved us to the end?  Should we not grieve for our sins that sent the Savior to the cross?  Should we not have full purpose of amendment to eliminate every sin from our lives for the sake of His sorrowful passion?  Serious consideration of these aspects of sin should overwhelm us with grief.  While we should regularly meditate upon the cross, we should also turn our grief into action: prayer, repentance, confession, reconciliation, and self-mastery.  Regardless of difficulties in overcoming our most deep-seated vices, we have the power available to us to do so — remember the Lord’s words to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (1 Cor 12:9).  As we eliminate one sin after another, one vice after another, our capacity to receive that grace expands and makes it easier to eliminate remaining vices.  As overwhelming as this may seem, it is important to take to heart these words of Jesus: “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26).

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