Friday, March 23, 2012

God’s Praise or Human Praise?

“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… The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.” (John 5: 31-32, 36)

Why did Jesus say these words? If we had been following the readings in the past weeks and days, we would know that Jesus said these words because there are people who do not believe that He has been sent by God. There are people in the places where He preached who reject His teachings and do not recognize the hand of God upon Him.

Did Jesus stop preaching? Did He stop curing the sick or healing people? Did He refuse to help those who had faith in Him and asked for His help? No. He kept on doing what the Father has sent Him to do.

Did Jesus seek to please the people who rejected Him and His teachings? No.

He encouraged them to look beyond their preconceived notions, biases and invited them to look at the fruits or the works that He has been doing in accordance to the will of God, who sent Him.

But did the people of His time recognize Him for who He is? Most of them did not. A few recognized Him as the Messiah. Some recognized Him to be a prophet performing miracles for them but they were not able to go beyond the miracles and see behind Jesus’ miracles or works. They were just happy to witness His miracles. Yet they were not willing to follow Him all the way. Even His disciples gave in to fear and failed to stand by Him when He was crucified. Still, there are many who failed to see Jesus for who He is.

Let me quote from Didache: “people didn’t believe that Jesus was sent by God. To them, Jesus didn’t fit into the image of the Savior they were waiting for. He didn’t meet their expectations. They remained unbelievers and refused Jesus’ offer of salvation.”

“I came in the name of the 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?” (John 5:43-44)

With whom can you relate in the Gospel today? Can you relate with the Jews or the Scribes and Pharisees? Can you relate with Jesus? Or can you relate with all of them?

If you can relate with the Jews and you find it hard to recognize God’s hand in your situation, pray to the Holy Spirit that God would reveal to you what hinders you from embracing God’s message to you right now. Pray that you would go past your own personal biases or preconceived notions of how God will answer your prayers. Pray that God would move you to humble your heart and accept what it is that God wants to happen in your situation for God knows best and He alone sees the real picture. He sees what is in the hearts of men.

Let me quote again from the reflection in Didache today: “Each time we reject God’s answer to our prayers because it doesn’t fit our expectations, we become like those unbelievers. When we do not open ourselves to God’s way, we deprive ourselves of a chance at life.”

When we choose to insist on our own way instead of do things God’s way, we might just end up hurting ourselves and fail to enjoy the best option that God has to offer.

If however you are someone who has been charged by God to speak a message on His behalf, then you could probably relate with Jesus. And if you feel that you are in the same situation where Jesus was in the Gospel today, choose to follow Jesus example. Do not stop doing what God has sent you to do simply because some people do not recognize the hand of God upon you. Let God testify for you and the works that God calls you to do. And when you choose to follow Jesus’ example and people still reject you or the message you preach, do not despair or be discouraged. Remember that Jesus experienced the same thing.

John 15:20 says, “Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”

Do not seek human praise. Seek only God’s approval and praise. Do not seek to please people. Seek only to please God the Father and let God to the rest. Let God be God in your situation.

Bear in mind that even the Son of Man suffered in the hands of the stubborn people of His time. Do not be surprised if you find yourself in a similar predicament as you follow Him. Instead, focus on the Father’s will just like what Jesus did so that you will not waver in faith and will not give up doing good and obeying the Father’s will.

Meditate on Jesus’ passion and resurrection to help you endure your current situation. Remember that unless you embrace your cross, walk on the same path where Jesus’ walked, allow yourself to be mocked and crucified, and die to yourself, you cannot join Jesus in His resurrection.

Say with St. Paul, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:8-11)

Mark 8:36 says, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:35)

Servant of God, do not be afraid to lose the favor of men or what men can do to you. “Fear only God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

“Say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6)

“Blessed are you when people hate you, avoid you, insult you, and slander you because you are committed to the Son of Man.” (Matthew 5:11)

“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12)

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