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“The crowd (pick a crowd, any crowd) is a terrible substitute for God. We desire God (and the desire for God is innate because we are created in His image). We discover the false god of the crowd, however, as we seek to protect ourselves from the ravages of shame. Who wants to be lonely, isolated, despised, and ridiculed? The crowd, like the demons, only seeks to devour us. Look at our heroes. Today’s hero makes a wrong move and is tomorrow’s pariah… “I want to be like you,” is a proper prayer if spoken to Christ. “I want to be like you,” can even be a proper prayer if spoken to a saint (who is in the image of Christ). “I want to be like you,” is a consent to a deathwish if spoken to the crowd and the culture of our time…We are created for God and the true goodness which comes only from Him.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“ ‘Then Jesus called the crowd, along with his disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me’ (Mark 8:34). To bear the cross means to accept the rejection of the world for turning to Jesus and following him. Discipleship involves a death that is like a crucifixion.” (NET Bible, Mark 8:34)

“When the world’s standards of success become the yardstick, Christians with the best of intentions cave to the pressure to cut corners, cheat just a little, lie to protect their reputation, take a favor under the table, ignore the marginalized to please the in-crowd, or blow by their own boundaries of behavior—all to measure up to society’s standards. Gaining credibility with the world must never become more important than obedience to God.” (David Kinnaman)

“When I watched the show this year, it was exactly like every other blessed year before. Charlie Brown and Linus had brought to their pageant the pathetic little tree which seemed to be dying before the eyes of all. He had clearly failed in his assigned task, revealing that he had no appreciation for the commercialism so dear to everyone else waiting for him to return with a big, splendid, pink tree. When he returned with the little tree everyone laughed at him, mocking him, disdaining him, making him feel even more of a failure and outcast than he already was. He cried out, asking whether anybody could tell him what Christmas was all about, and Linus answered by reciting from the Gospel of Luke. Then Charlie Brown got the true meaning of Christmas. He had his epiphany, his conversion…That was when I saw it, something I had never noticed before—Charlie Brown picked up his little tree and walked out steadily and unashamed before the rest of the wordless and wondering crowd. He no longer cared what they thought, or whether they disdained him. His moment of illumination raised him above such cares. The fear of man bringeth a snare, the Scripture says, but his new faith made Charlie Brown immune to such snares. He was prepared to walk in that faith alone, even if no one else followed…I noticed one other thing from that story: the crowd that once derided Charlie Brown as a fool (“Boy, are you stupid, Charlie Brown! What kind of a tree is that?”) afterward themselves came to comfort him.” (Fr. Lawrence Farley)

““Now when He saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciplescame to Him, and He began to teach them” (Matthew 5:1). Here begins the Sermon on the Mount. If it will mean anything to you, first you must follow Him up the mountain. Like Him, you must leave the crowds behind. That part of you that belongs to the ordinary, the everyday conventional way of life, is a detriment to spiritual progress. “Holy things are for the holy!” You hear it proclaimed just before partaking of the sacred Communion of His flesh and blood. It means that you also must first separate yourself from the mundane and profane. You are invited to share a mountain-top experience…” (Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky)


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