A THIRD WAY

Aside from the role of prayer in increasing our familiarity with the Lord, there is another important lesson that we can learn from this encounter between Mary Magdalene and the Risen Lord.

Our Lord says to Mary Magdalene: “Do not hold me… but go to my brethren and say to them…”

It seems that when Mary Magdalene finally recognized Jesus and realized that He was alive, she did what most friends would do in the same situation: She probably embraced Him in joy and wouldn’t let go!

But our Lord had a mission for her: To go and tell the others the good news that He is risen!

Mary most likely didn’t want to leave Jesus; she probably wanted to stay and spend more time with Him. But she did as she was told.

Here we see a third level of temptation: Temptation by the Apparently Good.

There is nothing wrong with holding on to Jesus, staying with Him and spending more time with Him. It’s what friends do! It’s something good!

But in this case, a Greater Good is for her to let go of Jesus and share the Easter News with the other disciples who are still mourning their Master’s death.

Level 3 Temptation, unlike the previous levels, is reserved for those who are more mature spiritually, and is employed only when we are choosing between two goods in the hope that we will be tempted to choose the Lesser Good (The other two, more basic, modes of temptation are often used when we are choosing between good and evil).

When we are spiritually mature in a particular area of our lives, the Devil will not resort to Temptation by Pleasure or Temptation by Pain. He knows that those are not going to work. Instead he will try to deceive us by tempting us with what seems good (the Apparent Good), when in reality, it is less than what God wants us to do.

In Gethsemane, our Lord must have been tempted to choose the Lesser Good. The strategies for temptation used there certainly included Temptation by Pain, but now we can also add Temptation by the Apparent Good.

Compared to death on the cross, to live a longer life of service of God and others certainly sounds like a good thing to do. It must have been tempting and can easily be rationalized as what’s being asked of Him, but it is, in fact, less than what God is asking of Him.

Can you think of an experience when you were tempted with the Apparent Good? What were the options before you then? What did you eventually choose? What did you learn from the experience?

If you share it here, others might learn a lesson or two about temptations.

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43 replies on “A THIRD WAY”

I amy never know what was the greater good between two seemingly good options. Lord, please send your spirit to guid me in making the choice for the greater good.

Which is the temptation by apparent good in this circumstance ? I have decided to help. The helping however has resulted to struggle in avoiding closeness. Exposing oneself to the source of fire is certainly not judicious. The other option is to distance and forego helping. Cutting clean appears easy. Continuing to dispense help makes the struggle real as clear and present danger. However being able to give help and being triumphant amidst the struggle is graceful in terms of conquering self.

Right now, I’m faced with two significant options: to stay in my current work which pays high and would allow me to pay off my debts and attain financial stability, or to risk once more and transition into a career that could influence public policy. I somewhat feel pressured to also give back to my parents for the things they have given me (most especially emotional support through the years).

To be honest, my heart lies on the latter career option because I could somehow make a difference through it. But I still don’t know how to make that big jump, so I have decided to give it one more year in my current job and use the time to explore different gateways towards that path.

Lord, please allow me to use my skills and knowledge to make the country better. Please always guide me so I could constantly make decisions that speak Your truth and will.

I am confused to what may be the apparent good now in my life. The practicla choice to stay in a high paying and comfortable job, or to accept I am suffering from a chronic illness and take care of my well being. For years I have battled against the fear of scarcity, and while it is financially good to stay, I am not doing good to the company by being somewhat a liability. At the same time I continue to neglect my health and allow all other personal aspects of my life to deteriorate like time with family, and faith. I am blessed with this retreat that though I was almost bedridden for the week, I was able to focus on our Lord.

Enable my children or give them tough love. To enable is the easier of the two, but tough love is the greater good. This is not easy for any parent who wish the children to succeed in the future in all areas of life – when we are gone.

After college, I had to decide if I’d join JVP, or work and earn to help my parents send my siblings to school to finish college. I decided to work. I realize now that this must had been God’s plan for me, as I see my siblings all finished their studies, and have work.

Not speaking out and just closing my eyes and ears in order not to “rock the boat” – particularly, when the issues concerns friends from opposing camps.

Reflection – resisting the call to leadership by justifying to stay at a present position is doing less that a greater Good. Similar to a comfort zone, which in itself can present already as a good act, might still be less than doing something better. Often Times this has been the disturbing thing on which Good path to take.

Temptation by the apparent good, to leave the choir as choir head so that the other choir master who is musically gifted will shine and give his best to the community through his compositions. On the other side I felt pity on the members of my choir, they want to sing, they want to serve, so I decided to stay.

REJOINING THE CHOIR. To this day, this remains a dilemma. Am I not serving the Lord when I sing my heart out with the congregation at Masses, Benedictions, etc.? If I cannot give the choir my 100% attendance, then I am not worthy of rejoining. Many times, the Lord has called me. Many times, I have attempted to rejoin but I doubt myself. I doubt my commitment to sing and serve 100%. Why? I chose the easier path of non-commitment and convenience. Forgive me, Lord.

When I pursued further studies in another country for a year, I was tempted to stay there, because really, life was better there. Opportunities were better for research, too, and I thought, I could do a lot more if I stayed there, maybe even do work that will be meaningful for a lot of people, because my work has something to do with cancer research. And I had someone who I loved and would take care of me, too, when here I wasn’t treated as well, even by my own peers. But…in the end, I chose to go back, because my family needed me, and because I was needed here. My students needed me, my residents needed me…maybe things were really bad here, but I can do my part and change things, even just a little, make things better for the people here. It was a hard decision to make, but one I do not regret, even though sometimes I can’t help but think of what might have been. Still, this is the sacrifice that God has asked me of me, and one I will do for Him, willingly.

When I had to let other people take care of my then ailing mother to focus and take care of myself having afflicted with a fatal disease. My mother died eventually while i was recuperating. I had to forego attending to her funeral considering my medical condition. That was a sacrifice. I trusted the Lord to take care of the situation even if I did not totally understand. He is too wise to be mistaken.

My relevant experience is on having a lot of excuses for doing or not doing things. I’m tempted to justify my actions or inactions through well-crafted excuses which in part may be true, but I failed to move beyond the excuses.

I always have excuses for everything. Apparently, these are beneficial to the self but in the end it feels a lot awful to always use them for convenience sake even when I do deserve the difficulties because of my decisions.

My temptation is always to give up taking care of myself and doing what makes me happy. I always find myself delaying my happiness for family or secretly indulging myself. On good days, I find a “design” for my life that works. On other days I fight for what I want/need, and how I wish I didn’t have to. But i will if i have to, especially when I hear God telling me to be good to myself.

The devil is wise enough to camouflage itself with something good. With Jesus on our side, we will be safe.

As manager, I often need to give feedback to my subordinates about their performance or behavior at work, especially when certain incidents are reported to me. Personally, giving negative feedback is a challenge for me because I hate confrontations and I have a tendency to choose the easy way out (what they don’t know won’t hurt them). But the greater good is always to help the people around me grow, both personally and professionally. I cannot help them if I choose not to make them aware of what is said or observed about them.

After adopting our foster child who later was diagnosed to have some learning disorder, our life revolved on her, trying to meet all the demands that goes with taking care of her. Our community service whas was put on hold.

Do I stay as school head or resign? I’m not sure if that was for the greater good or not. I knew it was to save myself because I was full of anger with the people who have difficulty in accepting changes I have initiated. I resigned because I could not get along with the people and their practices are so different from my values. The work I started is almost done. The school was awaiting result for the accreditation and there were positive feedbacks. If I did not leave, in fighting would have continued I think. But i also know that they will not continue what has been out in place under my leadership.

Do I apply abroad, teach and save for a comfortable life/retirement or stay, tutor and be here if or when my family ( esp parents) need me? When one of them goes, my siblings won’t be able to stand living with the surviving parent. At least my husband and I can. We’re still here. My thinking is “ang pera kikitain mo kahit saan ka” but to give back to our parents at their age for EVERYTHING that they gave (and gave up for) us…

Do we take on the leadership role in our fellowship or be a regular member and let the elders look for another leader? We may not be their first choice but no one was stepping up. We’ll just do the best we could and hopefully, we won’t let Him down.

But Lord I still pray for Your constant guidance that I may see You in all things and in all situations and that You may lead me where You want me to be.

When I was single, I sang in our church choir and attended retreats regularly, and I loved serving the Lord amd spending time with Him this way. When I married and had a child, I had to quit our choir to focus on family life. But I longed to return. I talked to our priest about it, and he said to me: there is a time for that (choir) later. For now, be a mother to your small children first.
I have heard it said that there are 2 kinds of sacrifice: voluntary (such as joining church ministry) and involuntary (giving up church ministry to care for sick relatives, for instance). Perhaps there are times when the voluntary sacrifices are the apparent good (and yes they are good!), but the Lord is calling us to the involuntary, greater good.

When my father died unexpectedly, I suddenly became the breadwinner. My career decisions were then mostly motivated by the apparent good. In my case, it was to make money so I could help the family pay the bills. I became very materialistic in the sense that all I wanted was the big salary. I set aside my own dreams and wants in the process. I reached a point where I didn’t even know who I was, beyond my role as daughter or niece, breadwinner or caregiver. Part of me died while chasing after the career and financial stability. Now, I am trying to balance everything and include my needs and wants in the decision-making process. I only have one life to live, and I also want my life to matter to me.

As a newly married couple and stay at home mom with a toddler and a baby, I was thinking that I am doing enough for God with daily prayers and attending regular Sunday mass and confession. Before we got married and even before I had my second child, we live an active missionary and community life but we suddenly decided to go inactive to focus more on our growing family. After almost a year, we miss having the community life and we cannot deny the thirst of proclaiming how God is so powerful in our family and married life that we decided to go back and serve our brethren in the community. Praise God for His open arms and welcoming embrace.

Temptation by the apparently good is always present when one works in an NGO. I feel that I am doing my share of good deeds by doing social development work that I need not go out of my way to do more. But ‘more’ does not always mean increase in number of things to do. It could mean to do things better or to be more efficient or to think of ways to be more effective. To be complacent can be as damaging as being indifferent.

A friend is encouraging me to transfer to this prestigious workplace. The pay is better and the time is more flexible compared to my current job. For years, I declined this offer for various reasons: personal integrity, service, gratitude.

This year, I am actually considering the transfer. The reason: I want to be miles away from this person so I can move on with my life.

Career-wise, the change of job will help me. Financially, this will be better too. Personally, it will finally “free” me from this person.

May the Lord guide me in making the final decision.

Apparent good would be to leave something behind for a better opportunity, without any second thought or attempt to see or analyze my participation in the dynamic of why it did not work. There are some moments in my life where I needed to look into my own contribution to the dynamic and the way I was feeling. It did not feel good at all to see how my demons had their own hand in the situation. But moving past that ushered me into a new state of being and living. It also helped me get rid of unhealthy patterns that would also make any seemingly good opportunity not work out.

I am really satisfy with my daily prayers and the charitable works under our care. In order to do greater good I must take a step for others corporal works of mercy as much as I can.

Delivering what makes me feel good with apparent limitations based on “capability”..
This has been my position when it comes to my effort in answering God’s call.
Forgive me my Lord!

i was hurt by a colleague and it took some time to feel reconciled within me and then start greeting the person. but I thought it is better not to move and relate spontaneously with the person as it might provoke further discussion on the matter and continue the conflict. But after going through this meditation , I feel that I need to chose the greater good that is to relate with the person more spontaneously.

I had the experience of being headhunted while not actively looking in the job market yet still employed in my position at that time. Meantime, I had relational difficulties at work despite job stability and fulfillment, but I didn’t want to pass up that attractive offer because of many perks. After two months, I found myself redundated because of a global reorganization in the company I transferred to. I felt deceived and shortchanged because what I thought was a career opportunity became a bad career move despite a “last minute nudge from the Lord” about not transferring to the new company. In retrospect, the greater good was staying put with the company I worked for so I could sort out my relational difficulties with my boss and colleagues.

Apparent good is sometimes like the “busy-ness” of Martha, as opposed to Mary’s “choosing the right thing”. But a lot of times, someone just has to do the “dirty work”. And I admit I lose a lot then. But I know I have enabled others. I accept my “loss”.

I was tempted by the apparent good that would have benefited me, but broken relationships with people I valued the most.

I tried to do it in the kindest way. With logic, counsel from experts, and assurance of my continued support.

I was tempted.

But in the end, chose to love. And sacrifice. For the greater good of all.

In the end, I learned that love is the greatest sacrifice we are called to do. We cannot love without it. And we must do it freely to receive the grace that comes with it.

I am at peace with my decision. Even if failure comes, I am loved and supported by those who matter most.

I choose to love. And I receive precious love in return.

Did I give in to the temptation by the apparent good by focusing and prioritizing my family, and turning down offers to take on more responsibilities in the workplace, work longer hours, and give more time to my service-oriented profession? It leaves me with more questions, Lord

Cutting ties with an “enemy” for my personal convenience vs forgiving an “enemy” in the name of Jesus? ?

Jesus, you have shown me how to love, that is total giving of yourself for the good of another. Sometimes, I wonder how to find balance between loving myself vs loving other people. Or is there such thing as ” finding balance” in loving? When you love, you love fully, even to the point of losing yourself. Please teach me to do the same. Teach me to love freely and joyfully.

Jesus, please teach me how to love you by loving myself and at the same time to love other people the way you do. Teach me to live a life of love, freedom and joy. I am yours, Jesus. Please don’t give up on me. Amen.

When there are fire or calamity victims, oftentimes I just give money instead of doing volunteer work for the victims. Also, instead of personally relating to family and friends, I just text my greetings or expressions of concern. These are good but Jesus wants me to be a better person, a better Christian by loving more and caring more through face to face interaction.

I love this sharing – very simple yet powerful and can be done starting now! Thanks, it seems you answered the question in my head while reading the last few paragraphs. Happy Easter to you, now I can’t say that personally to you but truly mean it. ♥️

Does choosing to become my parents’ primary caregiver over doing volunteer work in developing countries a form of temptation by the apparent good?

Honor your father and your mother. There is a time for everything. Maybe this time calls for you to look after them. They won’t be here forever. Maybe in the future you can still do your volunteer work. But please pray that the Holy Spirit will help you discern on what is the greater good. 🙂

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