One of the real dangers that some persons of faith can experience in terms of growth in the spiritual life, is to compare those spiritual things that we do against those spiritual things done by others. Sometimes this takes the form of reassuring ourselves that were not that bad because we are not committing such actions as stealing or murder or adultery. At other times it is because we can see great benefit in a particular spiritual discipline in our own life, and we wish to universalize that experience for everyone else. Sometimes we can use this in a condescending way. In other words, we look down upon others when they do not seem to be a serious about their faith as we are.
This last example is what is behind the questions of the disciples of John the Baptist. When John came preaching a new way of life, one of repentance and more austere expression of the faith, people were filled with enthusiasm for this new and challenging way of life. So much so was the excitement for the message of John the Baptist, but there was some confusion about whether or not he himself was the Messiah and not Jesus.
As a educator, one thing that becomes quite apparent in the classroom is that not all students are the same. Or, as an administrator, it becomes clearer quite quickly that not all teachers are the same either. If we are suggesting ways for growth, whether it involves students or administrators, each method of growth must be tailored to the needs of the individual. In the gospel, we are presented with the same lesson about the spiritual life.
when we consider the disciples, and their relationship with Jesus, it becomes readily apparent that Jesus does not treat each disciple in the same way. He knows their strengths, and their foibles. There are sometimes they’re all the disciples are present, and other times where Jesus takes only a few with him. Each disciple is given a unique relationship with Jesus.
And so it is with us. We too are given a unique relationship with the Lord Jesus. He knows what’s best for us, and he leads us to those practices and ways of spiritual growth that are best for us. The gospel also reminds us that certain spiritual exercises may be good for a time, but they are not good for ever. is Jesus mentions in the gospel fasting was important for John’s disciples today, but not for the disciples of Jesus. But this will not always be the case. There will come a time when fasting will be helpful for the followers of Jesus.
And so as we hear the gospel today we are very much reminded of the importance of our own personal relationship with Jesus. There is nothing more important for any of us in terms of spiritual growth than to focus upon the ways in which Jesus is calling us to new and ever more abundant life. This day, we are invited to remember that each one of us is unique in the ways in which God calls us to holiness reflect our unique us.