Lenten Devotional – Day 31 – Do You Smell?
Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way to salvation–an aroma suggestive with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse. (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)
In the scriptures appointed for today, the words “heart” and “fragrances” appear often. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened more than once as Moses and Aaron attempted to convince Pharaoh to let God’s people go into the wilderness to worship Him.
In the gospel of Mark, when the Pharisees questioned Jesus about divorce, Jesus remarked it was because of their hardness of heart that Moses wrote that commandment for them. The gospel then told the story of people bringing little children to Jesus, whom Jesus welcomed and blessed in spite of the disciples’ protests. That contrasting story to the ones before goes along with Paul’s comments to the Corinthians on how they lived their lives as Christians, a good change in their hearts received from the Spirit of the Living God, as the only letter of recommendation needed.
If you look to your life, how is your fragrance or heart most of the time? Is your scent such that all would know from it that you were a follower of Christ? Does your scent change or is your heart hardened when you do not get your way or when you feel hurt, betrayed, lonely or unloved? Do you work to change both, at those times, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to bring about “an aroma suggestive with life” and feelings of trust, joy, acceptance, wonder, and love?
I imagine Jesus recognized all of these things in the hearts of the children who came to him and is expecting the same of us when he tells the disciples, “Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in” (Mark 10:15).
I received a slightly revised version of the Prayer of Cardinal Newman in the 1980’s. I have re-read and shared it many times, always keeping the message close to my heart. I pray you can bring it into your lives and continue to make a difference in our world with a Christ-like heart and scent.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, Help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go. Flood our souls with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly that our lives may only be a radiance of yours. Shine through us and be so in us that every soul we come in contact with may feel your presence in our soul. Let them look up and see no longer us but only Jesus. Stay with us and then we shall begin to shine as you shine, to shine so as to be light to others. The light, Oh Jesus, will be all from you. None of it will be ours. It will be you shining on others through us. Let us praise you in the way you love best, by shining on those around us. Let us preach you without preaching— not by words, but by our example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do, the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to you. Amen.