“Have…a zeal in the first place over yourself, and then may you justly exercise zeal toward your neighbor.” (IC 2,3,1) | “Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.'” (Jn 13:38)

Kempis here (2,3) is referring to the “passionate” man who is overly concerned with the affairs of others while lacking introspection.  I’m reminded of Jesus speaking of removing the log from one’s own eye in order to see clearly to pick the splinter out of another’s eye (see Mt 7:3-5).

Peter’s declaration that he would lay down his life for Jesus meets with the response above.  Peter is certainly known for his zeal and his penchant for speaking or acting before thinking.  As Kempis implores, this zeal needs to be directed inward in prudence and self-reflection so that one is prepared to back up his words with his actions (Pentecost helps him rectify this, although he still has challenges even after that).

How zealous are we to follow Jesus wherever He leads us?  Does our undue interest in the affairs of others, or concern about how they will view our faithfulness to the Christianity we profess, lead us to regrettable speech and/or behavior?  Are we so well grounded in our convictions that we can say in confidence precisely what we will do for the Lord and then follow it up with appropriate works?

May our zeal to reform our own lives lead to ongoing conversion of ourselves so we can properly direct that zeal outwards in word and deed.

Ford Madox Brown reproductions - Jesus washing Peter's feet at the Last SupperJesus washing Peters feet at the Last Supper (contemporary) by Ford Madox Brown

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