“Allowing the lion of greed, evil tendencies and false priorities, to be conquered and defeated by Jesus, the Lion of Judah, the Great Lion!”
(Based on Gal 5:1-6 and Lk 11:37-41 – Tuesday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time)
“Braving the Lion in its own den” in a phrase that finds expression in various instances of our life.
It means encountering or confronting a stronger person or a stronger situation, in its own area of strength and force.
Imagine the Indian Cricket Team trouncing the Pakistan team in a stadium in Pakistan itself.
Imagine the Congress defeating the BJP in the political elections in Gujarat, which is one of latter’s greatest strongholds.
The Bible also has some typical examples of “Braving the Lion in its own den”…
The Israelites challenged the supremacy of the Egyptians while in slavery, and were able to script a wonderful exodus.
David, the shepherd boy defeated the mighty and proud Goliath in the Palestinian land and cut off his neck with the mighty warrior’s own sword.
Elijah, the prophet confronted the claim of the followers of Baal and made them realise the worthlessness of their deity in a challenge of their own style.
“Braving the Lion in its own den” requires much courage, conviction, strength and nerves!
The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus, the Master Challenger in such a situation of “Braving the Lion in its own den”!
A Pharisee invited Jesus to have a meal in his house.
We are unsure of the motives or the reason for this Pharisee to invite Jesus for the table sharing…
Maybe he just wanted to grow in his friendship with Jesus…
Maybe he wanted to check how this great preacher would conduct himself in his house…
Maybe he wanted to show off to his friends of having invited a great Rabbi to his house…
Maybe he wanted to break the ministry of Jesus and trap Him in doing some aberrations…
In any case, the Pharisee certainly expected Jesus to follow the rules and customs of the traditional Jewish meal.
But he notices that Jesus has failed to wash his hands before dinner.
This washing of the hands was a ritual purification process.
The insistence on this act was not for the sake of hygiene, but for ritual purity!
This omission of the sacred tradition came as a big shocker for the host Pharisee.
He would have thought about Jesus:
“This Rabbi is doing it all wrong!
Why can’t He follow our age-old customs?
He is insulting me before my other guests!
How dare He behaves so, in my own house!?
But this is where Jesus in His unique style of courage & conviction comes into confrontation with the attitude of the Pharisee…
The Pharisee was surely His host, yet Jesus dares to “Brave the Lion in its own den!”
The Pharisee was surely His invitee, yet Jesus dares to “Brave the Lion in its own den!?
Standing up for convictions and principles was a value that Jesus always upheld.
Being bold to always promote and defend goodness was a virtue that Jesus always supported.
Jesus lashes out with a righteous anger, “So then, you Pharisees, you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside yourselves, you are full of greed and evil. Fools…!” (Lk 11: 39).
The Pharisee got offended because Jesus failed to wash his hands before meal.
But Jesus got offended because they failed to have a true cleansing of their hearts.
The Pharisee got upset because Jesus failed to uphold the sacred tradition.
But Jesus got upset because they failed to uphold the values of inner purity and holiness.
The Pharisee felt insulted because Jesus failed to honour their customs and practices.
But Jesus felt insulted because the table-meal failed to reflect true love and sharing.
Jesus was not afraid to encounter the Pharisee in his wrong thinking and mightily “Dared to Brave the Lion in his own den”!
This same Jesus today encounters us and wants to “dare to brave the Lion in us, in our own den”.
Maybe I am bold and strong in being relaxed in some of my comfort and pleasure zones..
But Jesus dares us, to come out of this den and renew ourselves with a life of holiness and purity.
Maybe I am quite okay with aspiring for many gadgets and objects of passing joys and desires
But Jesus dares us, to come out of our den and focus on the real necessities of a good life.
Maybe I am just satisfied to beautify our external life even if it means being greedy and selfish
But Jesus dares us, to come out of our den and repent by living a self-sacrificing and a self-controlling life.
The ‘lion of Pharisaism’ is deep rooted in many of our personal lives, our family lives and in our community lives…
Having the focus only on external factors, but neglecting the inner dimensions…
Giving importance to only outer shows, but totally forgetting the internal aspects…
Being obsessed with doing many things, but totally ignoring the necessity of being holy…
The Lord is today “Daring to Brave this Lion within us, in our own den”!
Let us allow the lion of greed, evil tendencies and false priorities, to be conquered and defeated by Jesus, the Lion of Judah, the Great Lion!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “It is our part to plant and water carefully,