PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

 

On being praised

I can't help but share this wonderful reflection here.

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Thursday in the Fourth Week of Lent March 14, 2013
Today’s Readings:
Exodus 32:7-14
Psalm 106:19-23 - Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people
John 5:31-47
www.usccb.org/bible/readings/031413.cfm
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/13_03_14.mp3

Reading 1 Ex 32:7-14
The LORD said to Moses,
“Go down at once to your people
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt,
for they have become depraved.
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,
making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it,
sacrificing to it and crying out,
‘This is your God, O Israel,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’
The LORD said to Moses,
“I see how stiff-necked this people is.
Let me alone, then,
that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.
Then I will make of you a great nation.”

But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying,
“Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt
with such great power and with so strong a hand?
Why should the Egyptians say,
‘With evil intent he brought them out,
that he might kill them in the mountains
and exterminate them from the face of the earth’?
Let your blazing wrath die down;
relent in punishing your people.
Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel,
and how you swore to them by your own self, saying,
‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky;
and all this land that I promised,
I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.’“
So the LORD relented in the punishment
he had threatened to inflict on his people.
Gospel Jn 5:31-47
Jesus said to the Jews:
“If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true.
But there is another who testifies on my behalf,
and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.
You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I do not accept human testimony,
but I say this so that you may be saved.
He was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.
But I have testimony greater than John’s.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.
Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.
But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
and you do not have his word remaining in you,
because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.
You search the Scriptures,
because you think you have eternal life through them;
even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life.

“I do not accept human praise;
moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.
I came in the name of my Father,
but you do not accept me;
yet if another comes in his own name,
you will accept him.
How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another
and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father:
the one who will accuse you is Moses,
in whom you have placed your hope.
For if you had believed Moses,
you would have believed me,
because he wrote about me.
But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe my words?”
Reflection:
How do you feel when you're complimented? Most of us feel embarrassed. This typical reaction happens either because we fail to realize that it is God our Father who is praising us, or because we don’t believe it’s humble to accept praise, even when the praise comes from God.

In today's Gospel story, Jesus makes it clear that the only praise that really matters is that which originates from the Father, and such praise is very important.

Praise is good. We were made in the image of a God who values being praised. But because we're afraid that it's not humble to accept compliments, we quickly negate the affirmation. Well guess what. That's telling the people who compliment us that they're liars. And it initiates the game of "If I say I'm not worthy of your praise, then you'll try to convince me that I am indeed worthy of it, and I'll get more attention from you as we drag this out longer."

What a mess! Pride gets confused with humility. True humility means accepting praise and acknowledging that ultimately the credit goes to God. True humility means affirming those who compliment us by accepting their kind words and good intentions.

Jesus said that the Father's praise gives testimony about the Son's worth. Jesus was not implying that John's affirmation was invalid. On the contrary, he reminded the Jews about John's testimony precisely because it was very important indeed. But greater than John's praise was the Father's. The one who sent Jesus into the world was the best one to judge how well he was fulfilling his calling.

You, too, have been sent by the Father. You, too, have been commissioned and empowered to give Jesus to the world by using all of the gifts that he has given you and all of the good that is in you. If you're doing this to the best of your current ability, and if you're obeying the Father to the best of your awareness, the Father is praising you just like he praised his Son, Jesus.

No less than that!

Can you feel his praise? Oftentimes, we need it most when we are least aware of God’s praise. This usually happens when others put us down.

So, we need to make ourselves available to what the Father wants to tell us. Because we cannot hear his voice audibly, he speaks to us through people – but not the ones who are putting us down! Who is the Father putting in front of you today? You can find them in events at church, and even at work, on the sports field, on Facebook, or anywhere. If they affirm what is true in you, if they encourage you and build you up, it's the Father himself who's ministering to you.

Let your Father embrace you with his loving praise: Accept the affirmation of others. And when people tear you down or discourage you, remember that it's only God's opinion of you that matters, and he likes you far more than they do!


Join the discussion! We value your input in our online faith-sharing group,
The Emmaus Journey, and on our blog.

© 2013 by Terry A. Modica

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