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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

Active Surrender

by Fr. David M. Knight

June 10, 2024: Monday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time

Lectionary 359

1Kings 17:1-6; Matthew 5:1-12


Our help is from the Lord who made heaven and earth. (Responsorial: Psalm 121)


1Kings 17:1-6 (or Acts 11:21-26 and 13:1-3): When God sent Elijah to warn Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, during these years there shall be no dew or rain except at my word,” God knew he was putting Elijah’s life in danger. So he told Elijah: “Leave here, go hide in the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan. You can drink from the stream, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.”


Elijah may have thought to himself, “That is really for the birds! If I’m fed by birds I’ll be eating like a bird!”


When God asks something hard, it is not our fault if our feelings revolt against it. On the emotional level, Jesus himself, in his agony in the garden of Gethsemane, revolted against what the Father was asking him to do to save the world: “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.” Feelings are not subject to free will. In themselves they say nothing about our moral or spiritual stance toward God. The stance Jesus really took was revealed when he continued, “My Father, if this cup cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”[i]


When God asks what is difficult, we don’t just submit; we actively surrender. We surrender willingly, which means with our wills, not with our emotions. We may still feel fear, reluctance, abhorrence, even anger and revolt. But feelings mean nothing. If Jesus himself did not feel like doing his Father’s will, it is not an imperfection in us if when don’t feel like it either. What counts is to say, “Thy will be done!”

We can say that, and mean it, when every feeling we have is crying, “No!” “Our help” is not from our emotions, but “from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” He empowers our will.


The “Beatitudes” in Matthew 5:1-12 are sometimes translated as “Happy are....” It means the same as “Blessed are,” except we may think “happy” implies feeling happy. It doesn’t.


When we are deeply aware of our inadequacy (“poor in spirit”), or have something really terrible to “mourn” about, Jesus is not telling us we should feel happy. When his friend Lazarus died, Jesus cried at his grave, even though he knew he was going to raise him from the dead. In his agony in the Garden, he felt “deeply grieved,” to the point of sweating blood. On the cross he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” True, he was quoting Psalm 22, which ends as a cry of triumph, but the Gospel quotes his feelings as well as his faith. The point is that feelings and faith are two different things. We have to distinguish them. It is our faith that tells us we are “blessed,” not our feelings.[ii]


Decision: Identify yourself by your surrender: by your choices, not your feelings.

[i] Matthew 26:36-42.

[ii] John 11:35; Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:20-31.

Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry

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