Basilica Blues

Dave Gifford

READ : Colossians 2:20-23

These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence. (v. 23)

I recently took my family to the Basilica of Guadalupe, the cathedral that houses Mexico’s most beloved image of the Virgin Mary. We watched as several people crossed a concrete patio the length of a football field . . . on their knees. They were hoping the Virgin would see their sacrificial agony and answer their prayer requests.

I have no doubt that the piety of those people was genuine and their needs were pressing. But their suffering was unnecessary and even disrespectful of God. Who told them to do this? How might God (or Mary, for that matter) feel about being manipulated in this way? When did God ever demand such painful and extravagant displays of religion?

I think each of us is tempted to crawl on our knees in different ways. We think if our prayers are sufficiently intense or intelligent, loud or long, God will be more inclined to answer. But the Bible tells us that God went to great lengths to make us feel welcome, even sending his Son to die for us. We don’t need to impress him. We just need to trust him and speak.


Thank you, Lord, for leading me from painful pleading to intimate fellowship.