“From John the Baptizer’s time until now the kingdom of God has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.” –Matthew 11:12
How do the violent take God’s kingdom by force? During Jesus’ time on earth, a group called the Zealots believed they would take God’s kingdom by force by waging guerilla warfare against the Romans. Jesus rejected this approach, for His kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:36).
Throughout the history of the Church, some holy people interpreted and applied Matthew 11:12 by doing violence to themselves through harsh physical penances. While there is some value to this, the Lord probably means something other than this.
Pope Paul VI applied Matthew 11:12 to doing violence to our wills, pride, and pleasure-seeking by saying “no” to ourselves, repenting, and humbling ourselves. This self-denial is heart-wrenching. We do violence against the strongholds, sophistries, and proud pretensions in our lives (2 Cor 10:4-5). We knock ourselves off our pedestals. We repent of idolatry and violently destroy the false gods we have enthroned. However, as Fr. Al Lauer, founder and long-time author of One Bread, One Body, said: “The more we say ‘No’ to ourselves, the more we say ‘Yes’ to the Holy Spirit.” Thus, in saying “No” to ourselves and in doing violence to our own will, we thereby decrease while Jesus increases (Jn 3:30).
Do violence to your will and live in God’s kingdom.
PRAYER: Father, in this Advent give me godly violence.
PROMISE: “I am the Lord, your God, Who grasp your right hand; it is I Who say to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’ ” –Is 41:13
PRAISE: Pope St. Damasus I spent much time draining and cleaning the Roman catacombs, where the first Roman Christians
worshipped Jesus. He wanted the Church to be strengthened by the memories of the martyrs of the past.