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Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give the glory.

Today’s first reading really hit a personal “nerve” for me this morning.  I have always been strong in my faith to do the will of God but in the quiet of my mind where only God and I can hear the conversation, I committed a rather egregious error.  I wanted to be recognized publicly for the “good” works I thought I was performing for God.  I had many a conversation with God about this.  Thank goodness – or more appropriately, thank God – that He is a patient God, one who is willing to wait for me to mature; one who is willing to let me have those conversations and one who is willing to converse back with me.  Because of that active dialog with God (that I have had for years), I can now see the folly of my ways and today’s readings help me understand more clearly my purpose, my role in this life.

After doing good works for the Gentiles; after healing a man who was crippled from birth, the people of Lystra chose to treat Paul and Barnabas as gods themselves.  Paul and Barnabas, being true men of God, men who understood their role perfectly as mere instruments for the Lord, chastised the people of Lystra for treating them in such a manner.  In reflecting on this reading, I have to ask myself would I have reacted in the same manner?  To be truly honest, I probably would have loved the acclamation’s the people tried to bestow on Paul and Barnabas.  As I continue to grow, as I go deeper into my faith and deeper into my relationship with God, I understand now to seek those acclamation’s is wrong.  All that I have is from God, all that I offer other’s is from God too.  Any gifts that I have come from God and should only be used to honor and praise Him.  If someone were to read this blog and find his/her way back to God, All Praise be to God.  If someone were to go to Mass and found inspiration through the music we as a parish do, All Praise be to God.  If I am awarded a project that I either bid or ran that was profitable for my employer – All Praise be to God.

I was inspired to read our first reading, then our psalm (Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give the glory.) and then to hear the Word of God proclaimed in our Gospel this morning…

“Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

“Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine
but that of the Father who sent me.”

“I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit 
whom the Father will send in my name 
he will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.”

I am reminded of one of my favorite hymns…

Humbly Lord, we worship you; Our Redeemer King.  You who died to give us life, hear us as we sing.  Jesus Lord and God of all, come to us we pray.  Thus united in your love, may we live this day.

Jesus Lord we offer You, every act this day.  May we live our love for You and Your will obey.  Jesus Lord and God of all, come to us we pray.  Thus united in your love, may we live this day.

(There are more verses to this hymn, but as a Catholic, we only sing 2.  😉 )

Do something great for our Lord today – live humbly, live for Christ and as we were told in yesterday’s Gospel, love one another.

God’s will, NOT MINE, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.

That message still rings true for all of us today.  We are all called to be Christ like; we are to be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.  And as we read in our first reading for this morning, it won’t always be easy…

On the following sabbath
almost the whole city
gathered to hear the word of the Lord.
When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy
and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said.
Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said,
“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first,
but since you reject it
and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life,
we now turn to the Gentiles.
For so the Lord has commanded us,
I have made you a light to the Gentiles,
that you may be an instrument of salvation
to the ends of the earth.”

The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this
and glorified the word of the Lord.
All who were destined for eternal life came to believe,
and the word of the Lord continued to spread
through the whole region.
The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers
and the leading men of the city,
stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas,
and expelled them from their territory.
So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them
and went to Iconium.
The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

A couple of points made here – that tie directly in with the Gospel.  Let’s start with the message from the Gospel…

Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.
And whatever you ask in my name, I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.

The word of God has been spoken to us – will I accept it or reject it – it’s my choice to do so.  My fear is if I reject it, that Christ will shake “the dust” from His feet and leave me behind – much like what happened to the Jews of Pisidia when they rejected the good news God presented to them.  Do I really want to be left in the dust?  No, I do not.  With that in mind, I must live my life according to the way Jesus led His because He is the Way, He is the Truth, He is the Light.

I send the same message to you this morning that Paul and Barnabas spoke to the Gentiles in Pisidia.

“My brothers, children of the family of Abraham,
and those others among you who are God-fearing,
to us this word of salvation has been sent.
The inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders failed to recognize him,
and by condemning him they fulfilled the oracles of the prophets
that are read sabbath after sabbath.
For even though they found no grounds for a death sentence,
they asked Pilate to have him put to death,
and when they had accomplished all that was written about him,
they took him down from the tree and placed him in a tomb.
But God raised him from the dead,
and for many days he appeared to those
who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem.
These are now his witnesses before the people.
We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you
that what God promised our fathers
he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus,
as it is written in the second psalm,
You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.”

Jesus died for us on the Cross – for forgiveness of my sins and yours.  He descended to the dead and on the third day, rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures.  He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.  Jesus has conquered death and lives for us today.

Do something great for our Lord today – spread the word that Jesus lives.  Praise God.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father except through me.

Should anything else be written?  If you want to go to the Father, you have to go through Christ.  Accept Christ, accept the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Amen.  Alleluia.   This was told to the Apostle’s by Christ and that  Word, that Truth has now been told to you.  Will you accept it?

Jesus address’ one of my “mantra’s” (that I end every post with) in today’s Gospel.  As He is preparing His apostle’s for His departure, He tells them…

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. 

Do not be afraid; just have faith.

A shining example of this mantra is my brother Joe.  Joe has been thrown many curve balls in his life and continues to live a life of faith in the Lord.  He has been a rock for his children through many hard times; he has been a blessing to his youngest child Carissa who in turn has been a blessing for him too.  He has endured a nasty divorce, struggles with weight issues, moved his family from St. Louis to Danville, IL (hometown of Dick and Jerry Van Dycke) and through all of this, has maintained a positive outlook on life.  My mom and I were supposed to go to his place this weekend to celebrate the graduation of his youngest daughter Carissa from High School but alas, as fate would have it – their household has come down with a nasty illness and Joe had to cancel the celebration.  Even with that he has maintained a positive attitude.  Long story short, Joe is one of my personal examples of what it means to accept Christ, accept the Father and to not let his heart be troubled.  He has Faith and because of his faith – he is not afraid of all that life has put before him.

Do something great for our Lord today – do not let your hearts be troubled – have Faith in God and in Christ.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the saying great minds think alike.  After reading the Gospel and reflecting on what I wanted to post today, I then read Bishop Barren’s reflection.  This doesn’t happen often, but his thoughts were my thoughts this morning and because I need to get this done quickly, I’m going to post for you this morning his reflection on the Gospel.

Friends, in today’s Gospel passage, Jesus pointedly calls us to humble behavior. “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.”

St. Catherine of Siena once heard the Lord say to her, “Remember that I AM and you are not.” And St. Paul said, “What do you have that you have not received? So why do you boast?”

To believe in God is to know these truths. To live them out is to live in the attitude of humility. Thomas Aquinas said that humility is truth. It is living out the deepest truth of things: God is God, and we are not.

Now, all of this sounds very clear when it’s stated in this abstract manner, but we know how hard it is to live out! In our fallen world, we forget so readily that we are creatures, that we have been made from nothing. Then our egos begin to inflate: “I am. I want. I expect. I demand.” The ego becomes a massive monkey on our backs, and it has to be fed and pampered constantly.

That’s why today’s Gospel is so important. We are only messengers, not greater than the Master.

Do something great for our Lord today – if you’re still working “for the man”, take “take the man” out to lunch today.  (Here’s to hoping my assistants read this before lunch.)

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

(P.S. – Here’s to hoping I’m assigned assistants before lunch today  AND that they read this post.)

May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you! May God bless us, and may all the ends of the earth fear him!

So what does it mean to fear the Lord?  I am copying this from an article I found online that describes the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  The basis of these 7 gifts is Fear of the Lord because it teaches us to turn away from sin, confess our sin and avoid the near occasion of sin…

This gift enables a person “to avoid sin and attachment to created things out of reverence and love of God.” Primarily, this gift entails a profound respect for the majesty of God who is the supreme being. Here, a person realizes his “creatureliness” and dependency upon God, has a true “poverty of spirit,” and never would want to be separated from God, who is love. As such, this gift arouses in the soul a vibrant sense of adoration and reverence for God and a sense of horror and sorrow for sin.

This gift of fear of the Lord is sometimes misunderstood because of the word “fear.” “Fear of the Lord” is not a servile fear whereby a person serves God simply because he fears punishment, whether some sort of temporal punishment in this life or the eternal punishment of hell. A genuine relationship with God is based on love, not fear. Therefore, this “fear of the Lord” is a filial or reverential fear that moves a person to do God’s will and avoid sin because of love for God, who is all good and deserving of all of our love. In a similar way, a child should not be motivated to obey a parent simply because of fear of punishment, but because of love and respect; a person who loves someone does not want to disappoint or to break the other person’s heart. One should fear hurting a loved one and violating that person’s trust more than one should fear punishment. Nevertheless, one should have a healthy sense of fear for the punishment due to sin, including the fires of hell, even though this should not be the motivating factor for

loving God.

Therefore, this gift motivates the person in three ways: first, to have a vivid sense of God’s infinite greatness; second, to have a real sorrow for sin, even venial sins, and to do penance to atone for sins committed; and third, to be vigilant to avoid the near occasions of sin, to struggle against personal weakness and fight temptation.

Having read this, the readings for today really embrace the meaning of Fear of the Lord.  With that in mind, the question is have I – have you – embraced that gift of the Holy Spirit.  How much do I detest sin?  How often am I willing to free myself of these sins by going to confession?  What do I do to avoid the near occasion of sin?  What is it in my life  – what example do I give to the people around me – that shows that I have a proper fear of the Lord?  Do I praise God in everything I do?

Do something great for our Lord today – repent and turn away from sin.  Believe in the Gospel – the good news of Christ.  (No, it isn’t Ash Wednesday today.)

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Stay tuned – more to come…

It’s been a couple of days since posting – sorry for not being able to get anything done in these past few days.  I am on my “last” day of a very busy schedule and promise to get back on schedule tomorrow.

Do something great for our Lord today – spend 15 minutes in quiet just trying to reconnect with Him.

God’s will, not mine be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Praise the LORD, all you nations; glorify him, all you peoples! For steadfast is his kindness toward us, and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.

Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.  Alleluia.

There you have our Responsorial Psalm for today.  Simple?  I ask you, how many nations can you name that glorify Him?  We are told over and over again that His kindness if steadfast, His fidelity endures forever.  And again, how many nations can you name that profess this?

I can tell you of two households that proclaimed this…my wife and I both grew up in households that glorified God.  From that, our household proclaims the greatness of God and because of our steadfast love for our Lord and His mercy, I can now tell you of 4 additional households that proclaim this.  Is that a nation?  Maybe not, but God made His first covenant with Adam and Eve, another with Noah and his family, another with Abram (Abraham) in which God promised his ancestors would number as the stars in the sky.  Christ started his mission with only 12 men and with the gift of the Holy Spirit, look how it has grown and continues to grow.  So with that in mind, is it too much to expect that someday nations WILL glorify and praise God.  I hope and pray everyday that this will happen.  Maybe not in my lifetime but that’s OK – I believe it will happen on God’s time, which is why I say everyday God’s will, not mine, be done.  When my brother John got married, they carried down the aisle a banner that stated the following:

As for me and my house – we will serve the Lord.

Do something great for our Lord today – let your house, your personal nation, proclaim the glory of the Lord.  Rest easy in the steadfast kindness of the Lord and remain faithful to His Word.  This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.